D.1 Application of Urine

Stored urine coming from urine diverting sanitation systems (U.2, S.8, S.9) is a concentrated source of nutrients that can be applied as a liquid fertiliser in agriculture (to substitute chemical fertilisers) or as an additive to enrich compost.Decomposed organic matter that results from a controlled aerobic degradation process. In this biological process, microorganisms (mainly bacteria and fungi) decompose the biodegradable waste components and produce an earth-like, odourless, brown/black material. Compost has excellent soil-conditioning properties and a variable nutrient content. Because of leaching and volatilisation, some of the nutrients may be lost, but the material remains rich in nutrients and organic matter. Generally, excreta or sludge should be composted long enough (2 to 4 months) under thermophilic conditions (55 to 60 °C) in order to be sanitised sufficiently for safe agricultural use.Consists of urine and faeces that are not mixed with any flushwater. Excreta is relatively small in volume, but concentrated in both nutrients and pathogens. Depending on the characteristics of the faeces and the urine content, it can have a soft or runny consistency.Refers to (semi-solid) excrement that is not mixed with urine or water. Depending on diet, each person produces approximately 50–150 L per year of faecal matter of which about 80 % is water and the remaining solid fraction is mostly composed of organic material. Of the total essential plant nutrients excreted by the human body, faeces contain around 39 % of the phosphorus (P), 26 % of the potassium (K) and 12 % of the nitrogen (N). Faeces also contain the vast majority of the pathogens excreted by the body, as well as energy and carbon rich, fibrous material.Mixture of solids and liquids, containing mostly excreta and water, in combination with sand, grit, metals, trash and/or various chemical compounds. A distinction can be made between faecal sludge and wastewater sludge. Faecal sludge comes from on-site sanitation technologies, i.e. it has not been transported through a sewer. It can be raw or partially digested, a slurry or semisolid, and results from the collection and storage/treatment of excreta or blackwater, with or without greywater. Wastewater sludge (also referred to as sewage sludge) originates from sewer-based wastewater collection and (semi-)centralised treatment processes. The sludge composition will determine the type of treatment that is required and the end-use possibilities.The liquid produced by the body to rid itself of nitrogen in the form of urea and other waste products. In this context, the urine product refers to pure urine that is not mixed with faeces or water. Depending on diet, human urine collected from one person during one year (approx. 300 to 550 L) contains 2 to 4 kg of nitrogen. The urine of healthy individuals is sterile when it leaves the body but is often immediately contaminated by coming into contact with faeces.Describes technologies for on-site collection, storage, and sometimes (pre-) treatment of the products generated at the user interface. The treatment provided by these technologies is often a function of storage and is usually passive (i.e. requires no energy input), except a few emerging technologies where additives are needed. Thus, products that are ‘treated’ by these technologies often require subsequent treatment before use and/or disposal. In the technology overview graphic, this functional group is subdivided into the two subgroups: “Collection/Storage” and “(Pre-)Treatment”. This allows a further classification for each of the listed technologies with regard to their function: collection and storage, (pre-) treatment only or both.Refers to the methods through which products are returned to the environment, either as useful resources or reduced-risk materials. Some products can also be cycled back into a system (e.g. by using treated greywater for flushing).A functional group is a grouping of technologies that have similar functions. The compendium proposes five different functional groups from which technologies can be chosen to build a sanitation system:
User interface (U), Collection and Storage/Treatment (S), Conveyance (C), (Semi-) Centralised Treatment (T), Use and/or Disposal (U).
A sanitation system is a multi-step process in which sanitation products such as human excreta and wastewater are managed from the point of generation to the point of use or ultimate disposal. It is a context-specific series of technologies and services for the management of these sanitation products, i.e. for their collection, containment, transport, treatment, transformation, use or disposal. A sanitation system comprises functional groups of technologies that can be selected according to context. By selecting technologies from each applicable functional group, considering the incoming and outgoing products, and the suitability of the technologies in a particular context, a logical, modular sanitation system can be designed. A sanitation system also includes the management and operation and maintenance (O & M) required to ensure that the system functions safely and sustainably. Simple, single cell organisms that are found everywhere on earth. They are essential for maintaining life and performing essential “services”, such as composting, aerobic degradation
of waste, and digesting food in our intestines. Some types, however, can be pathogenic and cause mild to severe illnesses. Bacteria obtain nutrients from their environment by excreting enzymes that dissolve complex molecules into more simple ones which can then pass through the cell membrane.

The process by which biodegradable components are biologically decomposed by microorganisms (mainly bacteria and fungi) under controlled aerobic conditions.
The utilisation of products derived from a sanitation system.
Any cellular or non-cellular microbiological entity capable of replication or of transferring genetic material (e.g. bacteria, viruses, protozoa, algae or fungi).
Any substance that is used for growth. Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) are the main nutrients contained in agricultural fertilisers. N and P are also primarily responsible for the eutrophication of water bodies.
A sanitation system in which excreta and wastewater are collected and stored or treated on the plot where they are generated.
An organism or other agent that causes disease.A diverse group of unicellular eukaryotic organisms, including amoeba, ciliates, and flagellates. Some can be pathogenic and cause mild to severe illnesses.
The means of safely collecting and hygienically disposing of excreta and liquid
wastes for the protection of public health and the preservation of the quality of public water bodies and, more generally, of the environment.

Waste matter that is transported through the sewer.
An open channel or closed pipe used to convey sewage. See C.3 and C.4
The organic molecule (NH2)2CO that is excreted in urine and that contains the nutrient nitrogen. Over time, urea breaks down into carbon dioxide and ammonium, which is readily used by organisms in soil. It can also be used for on-site faecal sludge treatment. See. S.18An infectious agent consisting of a nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) and a protein coat. Viruses can only replicate in the cells of a living host. Some pathogenic viruses are known to be waterborne (e.g., the rotavirus that can cause diarrheal disease).
Used water from any combination of domestic, industrial, commercial or agricultural activities, surface runoff/stormwater, and any sewer inflow/infiltration.
Une matière organique décomposée résultant d’un processus contrôlé de fermentation aérobie. Au cours de ce processus biologique, les microorganismes (principalement des bactéries et des champignons) décomposent les déchets biodégradables et produisent un matériau brun/noir inodore, qui ressemble à de la terre. Le compost a d’excellentes propriétés d’amendement des sols et une teneur variable en éléments nutritifs. Certains des nutriments peuvent disparaître à cause du lessivage et de la volatilisation, mais ce matériau reste riche en nutriments et en matières organiques. En général, les excreta ou les boues doivent être compostés pendant une période suffisamment longue (de 2 à 4 mois), dans un en-vironnement thermophile (de 55 à 60 °C), afin d’être suffisamment assainis pour pouvoir être utilisés sans risque dans l’agriculture.Composés d’urine et de fèces non-mélangées à de l’eau de chasse. Leur volume est peu important, mais ils sont concentrés en nutriments et en agents pathogènes. Selon la qualité des fèces, leur consistance peut être molle ou liquide.Waste matter that is transported through the sewer.
Agent infectieux constitué d’une substance nucléique (ADN ou ARN) et d’une couche de protéines. Les virus ne peuvent se répliquer que dans les cellules d’un hôte vivant. Certains virus pathogènes sont connus pour être d’origine hydrique (par exemple le rotavirus qui peut provoquer des maladies diarrhéiques).

Urine contains most of the nutrients excreted by the body. Soluble substances in urine include essential plant nutrients such as the macro nutrients nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) as well as smaller quantities of micro nutrients such as boron (B), iron (Fe) and zinc (Zn). The nutrients in urine are in a form readily available to plants, similar to ammonia and urea based fertilisers, and with comparable results on plant growth. The World Health Organization guidelines recommend that urine is stored for at least one month before being used in agriculture at the household level. In larger systems, storage times should be longer (up to six months). Urine from healthy people is considered free of pathogens. For fully grown individuals there is nearly a mass balance between nutrient consumption and excretion. The nutrient content in urine is dependent on diet, sex, climate, water intake, time of the day when excreted etc. Roughly 88 % of N, 61 % of P and 74 % of K excreted by the human body is in urine.

The liquid produced by the body to rid itself of nitrogen in the form of urea and other waste products. In this context, the urine product refers to pure urine that is not mixed with faeces or water. Depending on diet, human urine collected from one person during one year (approx. 300 to 550 L) contains 2 to 4 kg of nitrogen. The urine of healthy individuals is sterile when it leaves the body but is often immediately contaminated by coming into contact with faeces.Any substance that is used for growth. Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) are the main nutrients contained in agricultural fertilisers. N and P are also primarily responsible for the eutrophication of water bodies.
An organism or other agent that causes disease.The organic molecule (NH2)2CO that is excreted in urine and that contains the nutrient nitrogen. Over time, urea breaks down into carbon dioxide and ammonium, which is readily used by organisms in soil. It can also be used for on-site faecal sludge treatment. See. S.18Le liquide que produit le corps pour se débarrasser de l’urée et d’autres déchets du corps. Dans ce contexte, le produit « urine » renvoie à l’urine pure, qui n’est pas mélangée à des fèces ou à de l’eau. Selon le régime alimentaire d’une personne, l’urine humaine collectée au cours d’une année (de 300 à 550 L approximativement) contient de 2 à 4 kg d’azote. L’urine d’un être humain en bonne santé est stérile lorsqu’elle quitte le corps, mais elle est souvent immédiatement contaminée par la mise en contact avec les fèces.

Design Considerations

Stored urine should not be applied directly to plants due its high pH. Instead, it can be applied directly to the soil before planting, by pouring into furrows or holes at a sufficient distance away from plant roots and immediately covered, or it can be diluted several times, and used frequently on plants as a general fertiliser. A good availability of nutrients is particularly important in the early stages of cultivation. Once crops enter their reproductive stage they adsorb few nutrients. Fertilisation should therefore stop after to ¾ of the time between sowing and harvest. The optimal application rate depends on N demand, the tolerance of the crops and N concentration in the (diluted) urine. The annual urine volume from one person is sufficient to fertilise around 300–400 m2 of cropland. There is no standard recommendation for dilution and existing recommendations vary widely (usually between ratios of 1:3 to 1:10). The advantages of dilution are a noticeable odour reduction and a decreased risk of over-application. At the same time dilution increases the total volume and thus labour and transport needs. Diluted urine can also be used like any fertiliser in (drip) irrigation systems, commonly referred to as “fertigation”.

The liquid produced by the body to rid itself of nitrogen in the form of urea and other waste products. In this context, the urine product refers to pure urine that is not mixed with faeces or water. Depending on diet, human urine collected from one person during one year (approx. 300 to 550 L) contains 2 to 4 kg of nitrogen. The urine of healthy individuals is sterile when it leaves the body but is often immediately contaminated by coming into contact with faeces.Any substance that is used for growth. Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) are the main nutrients contained in agricultural fertilisers. N and P are also primarily responsible for the eutrophication of water bodies.
The measure of acidity or alkalinity of a substance. A pH value below 7 indicates that it is acidic, a pH value above 7 indicates that it is basic (alkaline).
The organic molecule (NH2)2CO that is excreted in urine and that contains the nutrient nitrogen. Over time, urea breaks down into carbon dioxide and ammonium, which is readily used by organisms in soil. It can also be used for on-site faecal sludge treatment. See. S.18Mesure de l’acidité ou de l’alcalinité d’une substance. Un pH inférieur à 7 indique qu’il est acide, un pH supérieur à 7 indique qu’il est basique (alcalin).

Materials

Materials needed include sufficient closed containers to store urine for one month or more, agricultural equipment to dig furrows and holes and watering pots or (drip) irrigation devices. People involved in using urine in agricultural production should be provided with personal protective equipment such as shoes, gloves and masks.

The liquid produced by the body to rid itself of nitrogen in the form of urea and other waste products. In this context, the urine product refers to pure urine that is not mixed with faeces or water. Depending on diet, human urine collected from one person during one year (approx. 300 to 550 L) contains 2 to 4 kg of nitrogen. The urine of healthy individuals is sterile when it leaves the body but is often immediately contaminated by coming into contact with faeces.The organic molecule (NH2)2CO that is excreted in urine and that contains the nutrient nitrogen. Over time, urea breaks down into carbon dioxide and ammonium, which is readily used by organisms in soil. It can also be used for on-site faecal sludge treatment. See. S.18

Applicability

Urine Application is not considered a priority in acute emergencies, but might be an option during the stabilisation and recovery phases provided it is acceptable to the local population and farmers have an interest in using urine as a fertiliser. Urine fertilisation is ideal for rural and peri-urban areas where agricultural lands are close to the point of urine collection. Households can use urine on their own plot of land or if facilities and infrastructure exist, urine can be collected at a semi-centralised location for distribution and transport to agricultural land. Stored urine has a relatively strong odour and can be offensive to work with. If urine is diluted and immediately tilled into the soil the odour can be reduced.

The liquid produced by the body to rid itself of nitrogen in the form of urea and other waste products. In this context, the urine product refers to pure urine that is not mixed with faeces or water. Depending on diet, human urine collected from one person during one year (approx. 300 to 550 L) contains 2 to 4 kg of nitrogen. The urine of healthy individuals is sterile when it leaves the body but is often immediately contaminated by coming into contact with faeces.The degradation of organic matter with the goal of reducing readily biodegradable compounds to lessen environmental impacts (e.g., oxygen depletion, nutrient leaching).
The organic molecule (NH2)2CO that is excreted in urine and that contains the nutrient nitrogen. Over time, urea breaks down into carbon dioxide and ammonium, which is readily used by organisms in soil. It can also be used for on-site faecal sludge treatment. See. S.18Le liquide que produit le corps pour se débarrasser de l’urée et d’autres déchets du corps. Dans ce contexte, le produit « urine » renvoie à l’urine pure, qui n’est pas mélangée à des fèces ou à de l’eau. Selon le régime alimentaire d’une personne, l’urine humaine collectée au cours d’une année (de 300 à 550 L approximativement) contient de 2 à 4 kg d’azote. L’urine d’un être humain en bonne santé est stérile lorsqu’elle quitte le corps, mais elle est souvent immédiatement contaminée par la mise en contact avec les fèces.

Operation and Maintenance

Over time, some minerals in urine will precipitate (e.g. calcium and magnesium phosphates). Equipment that is used to collect, transport or apply urine (e.g. watering cans with small holes) can thus clog over time. Most deposits can easily be removed with hot water and a little weak acid, such as vinegar.

The liquid produced by the body to rid itself of nitrogen in the form of urea and other waste products. In this context, the urine product refers to pure urine that is not mixed with faeces or water. Depending on diet, human urine collected from one person during one year (approx. 300 to 550 L) contains 2 to 4 kg of nitrogen. The urine of healthy individuals is sterile when it leaves the body but is often immediately contaminated by coming into contact with faeces.The organic molecule (NH2)2CO that is excreted in urine and that contains the nutrient nitrogen. Over time, urea breaks down into carbon dioxide and ammonium, which is readily used by organisms in soil. It can also be used for on-site faecal sludge treatment. See. S.18

Health and Safety

Urine poses a minimal risk of infection, especially when stored for an extended period, however urine should be carefully handled and a waiting period of one month between fertilisation and harvest should be respected. Urine should be applied close to the ground, thus reducing the possibility of direct contact with the edible parts of plants. As an additional safety measure, urine use could be restricted to non-food crops (flowers), crops that are processed or cooked before consumption (e.g. eggplant), or crops or trees that allow for a minimum distance between the soil and harvested part of the crop (e.g. all kinds of fruit trees). As hormones and pharmaceuticals are partly excreted with urine, there is a small possibility that these will be adsorbed by plants and enter the human food chain. This risk is however minimal when compared to the risks associated with the pharmaceuticals in animal manure, pesticide use or the direct discharge of untreated wastewater into water bodies.

The liquid produced by the body to rid itself of nitrogen in the form of urea and other waste products. In this context, the urine product refers to pure urine that is not mixed with faeces or water. Depending on diet, human urine collected from one person during one year (approx. 300 to 550 L) contains 2 to 4 kg of nitrogen. The urine of healthy individuals is sterile when it leaves the body but is often immediately contaminated by coming into contact with faeces.The organic molecule (NH2)2CO that is excreted in urine and that contains the nutrient nitrogen. Over time, urea breaks down into carbon dioxide and ammonium, which is readily used by organisms in soil. It can also be used for on-site faecal sludge treatment. See. S.18Used water from any combination of domestic, industrial, commercial or agricultural activities, surface runoff/stormwater, and any sewer inflow/infiltration.
Le liquide que produit le corps pour se débarrasser de l’urée et d’autres déchets du corps. Dans ce contexte, le produit « urine » renvoie à l’urine pure, qui n’est pas mélangée à des fèces ou à de l’eau. Selon le régime alimentaire d’une personne, l’urine humaine collectée au cours d’une année (de 300 à 550 L approximativement) contient de 2 à 4 kg d’azote. L’urine d’un être humain en bonne santé est stérile lorsqu’elle quitte le corps, mais elle est souvent immédiatement contaminée par la mise en contact avec les fèces.

Costs

The costs for urine application are low. However, urine application can be labour intensive and land availability could be an issue. If urine needs to be transported over longer distances, transport costs might be considerable and not always economically viable as urine has a relatively low value per volume. However, urine fertilization could offer livelihood opportunities, improved yields and the potential to substitute costly chemical fertilisers with a readily available product.

The liquid produced by the body to rid itself of nitrogen in the form of urea and other waste products. In this context, the urine product refers to pure urine that is not mixed with faeces or water. Depending on diet, human urine collected from one person during one year (approx. 300 to 550 L) contains 2 to 4 kg of nitrogen. The urine of healthy individuals is sterile when it leaves the body but is often immediately contaminated by coming into contact with faeces.The organic molecule (NH2)2CO that is excreted in urine and that contains the nutrient nitrogen. Over time, urea breaks down into carbon dioxide and ammonium, which is readily used by organisms in soil. It can also be used for on-site faecal sludge treatment. See. S.18

Social Considerations

The potential application of urine in agriculture should be discussed with the affected communities beforehand. Regular training or orientation may be needed in order to support acceptance, ensure proper application and to avoid accidental misuse.

The liquid produced by the body to rid itself of nitrogen in the form of urea and other waste products. In this context, the urine product refers to pure urine that is not mixed with faeces or water. Depending on diet, human urine collected from one person during one year (approx. 300 to 550 L) contains 2 to 4 kg of nitrogen. The urine of healthy individuals is sterile when it leaves the body but is often immediately contaminated by coming into contact with faeces.The organic molecule (NH2)2CO that is excreted in urine and that contains the nutrient nitrogen. Over time, urea breaks down into carbon dioxide and ammonium, which is readily used by organisms in soil. It can also be used for on-site faecal sludge treatment. See. S.18

Fact Sheet Overview

Inputs

Stored Urine

Outputs

Biomass

Response Phase

Stabilisation +
Recovery + +

Challenging Ground Conditions

Suitable

Application Level

Household + +
Neighbourhood + +
City + +

Water-based or Dry Technology

Dry

Management Level

Household + +
Shared + +
Public + +

Technical Complexity

Low

Functional Group

Use and / or Disposal

Required Space

High

Objectives & Key Features

• Productive use of nutrients as liquid fertiliser

Strength & Weakness

  • May encourage income generation (improved yields)
  • Reduces dependence on chemical fertilisers
  • Low risk of pathogen transmission
  • Low cost
  • Urine is heavy, difficult to transport and application is labour intensive
  • Odour may be offensive
  • Risk of soil salinisation if the soil is prone to accumulation of salts
  • Social acceptance may be low in some areas
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