here's a good article from http://www.ruaf.org/no10/29_mexico.html
Organoponics - the Use of Human Urine in Composting
MC. Francisco J. Arroyo G.D.
Co-ordinator CEDICAR and of the Urban Agriculture Network (Red Aguila
Experiments and tests using fermented human urine in the production of
legumes, medicinal and aromatic plants in containers, began 10 years
ago1 in the Rural Research and Training Centre A.C. (CEDICAR). This
cultivation system has been called "organoponics" or "urineponics". It
is a cost-effective system, saving money, water, and being capable of
producing an average of 25 kg of legumes per year per m2, and which
has been culturally accepted by most of the families and institutions
with which we have worked.
The main advantage of this cultivation system, especially where land
is scarce, is that after 10 months of growth, the initial substratum
has decomposed, resulting in compost, rich in organic matter.
The organoponic system developed in Mexico, mainly in urban areas, is
extremely simple. First, containers are filled with leaves and/or
grass trimmings up to 85% of their capacity. Then they are inoculated
with fermented urine and filled with an additional 15% of topsoil.
Finally, the seed is transplanted or sown.
Urine is fermented by placing one litre of urine in a container and
adding a spoonful of black soil, compost or vermicompost. It is left
to sit without cover for 28 days. The process is completed when the
smell of ammonia becomes pervasive and the colour changes from light
yellow to dark brown.
Use of the ferment:
* In organoponics, 3 litres per bucket with 19 litres of
compressed leaves, (15 litres per m2 of leaves, 20 cm deep). This is
the initial dose. Then, it is diluted at a ratio of 10:1, (10 parts
water to 1 part ferment). A quarter of a litre of this is applied per
bucket, three times a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday).
* On the soil, it is applied combined with irrigation and/or
rainwater in doses still being tested for different crops.
Composting activator: as urine ferments, significant
populations of Actinomycets emerge, which are microorganisms
especially apt to degrade lignin and cellulose. For this reason, it
can be applied at a dose of 5 to 20 litres per m3 of carbon rich
material, to substitute and/or complement other manure.
Consult web page: www.laneta.apc.org/sarar
The use of urine as fertilizer highlights the added benefits of dry
toilets, as well as edible backyard and rooftop gardens. Families are
also encouraged to donate their urine to the municipal system for
treatment and use in peri urban agriculture.
Urine is innocuous, its use is guaranteed and carries no health
risks2. Most of the pathogens that cause human diseases die quickly
once urine leaves the body. If some subsist, the lactic bacteria and
the Actinomycets would destroy them during storage and during the
Organoponics and other components of Urban Agriculture
The technique allows the recycling of organic matter (used as
substrata) and promotes the sorting of household wastes and the
development of household, neighbourhood and municipal composting
centres. It also saves water, promoting dry, urine-separating toilets,
which alleviates the accidental discharges from toilets and septic
tanks reaching water bodies, causing their eventual eutrophication.
Although household gardens are not conceived as a business or a small
undertaking, a 10 m2 garden can bring a family savings of 80 to 100
US$ per month. The household diet is improved as healthy and fresh
legumes become more easily available.
The practice can be used as participatory environmental education
process for the poorer segments of the population, which will
reinforce community ties and neighbourhood organizations. Gender
studies and surveys on the distribution of household work are being
conducted. The provision of support and incentives to environmentally
conscious families needs to be included in environment, public
service, health and economic policies of local authorities. It would
also be feasible and desirable, for local authorities to set up urban
agriculture divisions and integrate urban agriculture into municipal
agricultural initiatives. Having a municipal greenhouse and composting
centre that supplies seedlings and compost is, without doubt, a
strategic action that will help to achieve continuity and maintain
family gardens in good condition.
The use of human urine as fertilizer in urban agriculture requires
that it be developed as a local authority backed programme. Systems to
collect, transport, store, treat (ferment) and apply, need to be
developed. The same farmers interested in using urine can take part in
this programme and develop an enterprise for the handling both of
urine and faeces and their secondary treatments before being used as
fertilizers. The role of the municipality will be to facilitate these
activities and perhaps, find funds to partially subsidize the process.
1) Based on a brochure published by the State of California, USA,
written by Dr. Barbara Daniels (Fairfax California. USA, year unknown).
2) Vinneras Björn "Possibilities for sustainable nutrient recycling by
fecal separation combined with urine diversion. Doctoral thesis.
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. Uppsala 2002.
Esrey A. Steve, et.al. "Cerrando el Ciclo. Saneamiento ecológico para
la seguridad alimentaria. UNDP-SIDA. Mexico, 2001.