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Effects of Human Urine on the Growth of Indian Tree Essay

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Background of the Study

Most of the Filipinos earn a living through agriculture. Throughout the years, a lot of fertilizers were improvised, mostly for the comfort of the Filipino farmers. Human urine, for example, is a well-balanced nitrogen-rich quick-reacting liquid fertilizer. It contains nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus and other nutrients depending on the diet. The health risks associated with use of human urine in plant production are generally low, that is why it’s an adequate plant fertilizer.

On another note, Indian tree (Polyalthia longifolia) is a small-to-medium-sized evergreen tree growing up to 15 meters. Its leaves are long, narrow and oblanceolate, dark green, glossy and have wavy margins. It is native to India, Sri Lanka and recently introduced in the Philippines and widely cultivated in Metro Manila, planted in parks, garden and roadsides. Studies showed that the seeds of Indian Tree contain amino acids, the barks contain phytochemical, the root extract contains antimicrobial, various solvent extracts contain anti-inflammatory, and the seeds that are extracted contain antifungal.

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Objectives (major and minor) of the study

This study, therefore, endeavors to investigate the effects of human urine on the growth of Polyalthia longifolia also commonly known as Indian Tree. It also endeavors to inform the farmers and the people in the field of agriculture practical guidance of the other uses of human urine.

Significance of the Study

This investigatory project entitled “The Effects Of Human Urine On The Growth Of Indian Tree” will be conducted in order to help and inform the people especially the farmers that “the economical value of the urine can be calculated by comparing with the price of mineral fertilizer on the local market or by calculating the value of the increased yield of the fertilizer.” (Anna Richert, et.al., 2010-2011). We would like it to be one of the aspects that contribute to the progression of our technology especially in the field of agriculture.

This can add knowledge to students, teachers and administrators in making a research and improving their experiment especially those who are working on herbal medicine. This project aims to guide the future researchers in making their experiment.

Scope and Limitation

This study will focus on using the human urine as a fertilizer. Human urine, water and a combination of both will be poured on to the soil of the Indian plant. Using a commercially available Indian plant will make a comparative appraisal. This study, however, will not alter the active compounds of the soil and the seed itself.


Ricker, A. et.al. (2010) stated that urine is an aqueous solution made up of more than 95 per cent water, with the remaining constituents made up of urea, creatinine, dissolved ions (chloride, sodium, potassium, etc), inorganic and organic compounds or salts. Most of these remain in solution, but there can be a tendency for phosphorus-rich substances to sediment in containers that are stored for hygienization. This substance has a syrupish texture, and if urine is collected in a piping system, this “urine syrup” can sediment in pipes if the inclination is not sufficient. Differences in composition of excreta between different regions reflect differences in the uptake of consumed crops and thus in the plant nutrient supply needed for maintaining crop fertility in the region. Urine used directly or after storage is a high quality, low cost alternative to the application of N-rich mineral fertilizer in plant production. The nutrients in urine are in ionic form and their plant-availability compares well with chemical fertilizer (Johansson et al., 2001; Kirchmann and Pettersson, 1995; Simons and Clemens 2004).

Urine also contains large amounts of phosphorus, potassium, sulphur and micronutrients, but due to its high content of N, its P/N and K/N ratios are lower than in many mineral fertilizers used for crop production, and lower than what many crops need according to fertilizer recommendations. An advantage of urine in comparison with organic fertilizers is that the phosphorus exists in forms that are plant-available. This means that urine is quite efficient as a phosphorus fertilizer, which has implications for the future with regard to the concept of Peak Phosphorus and the fact that phosphorus is a finite resource.(p1) The quantity of urine produced by an adult mainly depends on the amount of liquid a person drinks and perspires. Children produce approximately half as much urine as adults. Excessive sweating results in concentrated urine, while consumption of large amounts of liquid dilutes the urine. (p3) Urine use in areas where salinization is an issue should be monitored. Urine is a solution of salts, and salt stress can be a major constraint to plant production in arid areas.

When urine is used in these areas, irrigation practices should be adapted, the urine should be watered down, and application of urine should regularly be interchanged with applications of water only. (p5) Grunbaum, M. (2010) cited that urine is chock full of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, which are the nutrients plants need to thrive—and the main ingredients in common mineral fertilizers. There is, of course, a steady supply of this man-made plant food: an adult on a typical Western diet urinates about 500 liters a year, enough to fill three standard bathtubs. And despite the gross-out potential, urine is practically sterile when it leaves the body, Heinonen-Tanski pointed out. Unlike feces, which can carry bacteria like salmonella and E. coli, urine poses no health risks—astronauts on the International Space Station even drink the stuff—after it’s purified.

Effective fertilization is not the only benefit of recycling urine, Heinonen-Tanski suggested in a review paper in the January 2010 issue of Sustainability. The separating toilets that collect urine use less water than flush toilets, she wrote, and the simplified waste stream requires less energy in sewage treatment. According to Shaw, R. (2010) one reason that urine is an appropriate fertilizer is because the majority of the highly available nutrients in urine exist in a form that plants can use easily. Seventy-five to 90 % of the nitrogen in urine is in the form of urea, which becomes primarily ammonium ions in an aqueous solution of near neutral pH. This ammonium can be biochemically transferred to nitrate (NO3-) in the presence of oxygen (Jonsson et al, 2004: 9). Phosphorus is excreted as phosphate ions (Jonsson et al, 2004: 9). The majority of potassium, sulfur, and most minerals are also present as free ions (Jonsson et al, 2004: 9).

These nutrients are directly available to plants in these forms without processing. As with chemical fertilizers, urine is therefore a dilution of fast-acting plant nutrients that can work quickly to nourish plants (Kvarnstrom et al, 2006: 4). Comparable crop yields have been found when using equivalent amounts of chemical and urine fertilizers on many different crops. (p12) A fast-acting fertilizer like urine fertilizer has several benefits. Assuming the nutrient content can be estimated or measured with reasonable accuracy, the fertilizer can be applied in specific doses to meet known nutrient needs. Fast-acting fertilizers can also be used to rectify some diagnosed nutrient deficiencies, even on specific plants. Nutrients can also be applied at specific times in a plant’s lifespan to optimize nutrient uptake.(p13) As with any fertilizer, urine fertilizer can be applied in excess. Over-fertilization can introduce toxic levels of nutrients into the soil and kill plants.

As is often the case with urine fertilizer, the large amount of nitrogen is the main concern. Fortunately, the toxic level of nitrogen is very high. A rule of thumb is that the toxic level of nitrogen is approximately four times the normal fertilization rate (Jonsson et al, 2004:4). This provides a large factor of safety for the use of urine fertilizer. If nitrogen is kept at an acceptable level, it is generally accepted that, except in rare cases, the other nutrients present in urine will stay at an acceptable level as well. (p14) Another concern is the volatility of nitrogen in urine. “The high pH of the urine in the collection vessel, normally 9-9.3, coupled with its high ammonium concentration, means that there is a risk of losing N in the form of ammonia with the ventilated air” (Jonsson et al, 2004: 11). This volatilization of ammonia occurs rapidly, with increased volatility as temperatures rise, and substantial amounts of valuable nitrogen can be lost to the atmosphere (Glibert et al, 2006: 448).

Further, the contact of urine with the atmosphere creates unpleasant odors, as anyone who has smelled urine evaporating on a latrine floorcan attest. Odor does not affect the usefulness of urine fertilizer, but it can dissuade people from use. Urine fertilizer must therefore be collected and applied with as little atmospheric contact as possible, both to conserve nitrogen and to reduce unpleasant odor. (p15) Robinson, D. (2010) said that fresh human urine is sterile and so free from bacteria. In fact it is so sterile that it can be drunk when fresh; it’s only when it is older than 24 hours that the urea turns into ammonia, which is what causes the ‘wee’ smell.

At this stage it will be too strong for use on plants, but poured neat on to the compost heap it makes a fabulous compost accelerator/activator, with the extra benefit of adding more nutrients. Most garden fertilizers for vegetables contain more phosphorus than nitrogen. Phosphorus is valuable for root growth, nitrogen for vegetative growth like leaves and potassium helps the ripening and fruiting process. The great value of urine lies in its universal availability and zero cost.

Consequently it has immense potential value and has been used for many generations as a plant food in some countries, notably in the Far East. Because of its high nitrogen content it is particularly useful for feeding leafy vegetables, which enjoy a high nitrogen diet. According to Abington, J.B. (1992) cited that urine as a source of fertilizer has been investigated at Lumle. The effect of 1:1 water: urine mixture top dressing on the marketable yield of leafy vegetable crops was found to be a significant increase of 81.7% over an untreated control, and 23.7% over a top dressing of urea. (p51)


A. Preparation and Collection of Tree

Two Indian Tree seeds will be bought. They will be planted using Loam soil. The specimen will be stored in the garden area at MPC. Controlled variable 1 will be watered using urine (see step 2) and controlled variable 2 will be watered using tap water.

B. Preparation and Collection of Urine

Human urine will be collected from one of the group members. The contributor’s diet will be strictly observed. The urine sample will be measured upon collection. The color will also be observed. Materials

-seeds will be bought or we’ll try to find it for free…
-2 pots?
-human urine by Mark Figueras
-mark’s diet
-plant the seeds, 2 pots (1 controlled *urine, 1 uncontrolled *water) -water
3 times a day having both urine and water equal in amount

Richert, Anna., Gensch, Robert., Jönsson, Håkan.,Stenström, Thor-Axel., & Dagerskog, Linus. (2010-1). Practical Guidance on the Use of Urine in Crop Production. [Pdf]. Ttockhollm Environment Institute, Sweden Retrieved December 12, 2012 from EcoSanRes Series. http://www.ecosanres.org/pdf_files/ESR2010-1-Pract icalGuidanceOnTheUseOfUrineInCropProduction.pdf

Grunbaum, Mara. (July 23, 2010). Gee Whiz: Human Urine Is Shown to Be an Effective Agricultural Fertilizer. [Webpage]. Retrieved December 12, 2012 from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=h uman-urine-is-an-effective-fertilizer

Shaw, Ryan. (2010). THE USE OF HUMAN URINE AS CROP FERTILIZER IN MALI, WEST AFRICA. [Pdf]. Ryan Shaw, MICHIGAN TECHNOLOGICAL UNIVERSITY Retrieved December 12, 2012 from http://cee.eng.usf.edu/peacecorps/5%20-%20Resource s/Theses/Sanitation/2010Shaw.pdf

Abington, J.B. (1992). Sustainable livestock production in the mountain agro-ecosystem of Nepal. Reprint, Rome.

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