French researchers think they may have found a unique natural alternative to chemical fertilizers. Their discovery reduces environmental pollution and helps to feed a growing global population, all thanks to an unexpected ingredient - human urine.
Synthetic nitrogen fertilizers boost agricultural production, but if used in excess, they pollute the environment. Their prices are also soaring, especially now with the war in Ukraine. It has left scientists searching elsewhere for a solution to this combination of crises.
To grow, "plants need nutrients, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium," explains the engineer and coordinator of the OCAPI research program. When we eat, we ingest these nutrients before we "excrete them, mostly through urine."
The separation of urine from toilets was first tested in Swedish eco-villages in the early 1990s, then in Switzerland or Germany. Experiments are now also being carried out in the United States, South Africa, Ethiopia, India, and Mexico. In France, projects are emerging in Dol-de-Bretagne, Paris, Montpellier.
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