Human urine - Chemical composition and fertilizer use efficiency


Stored human urine had pH values of 8.9 and was composed of eight main ionic species (> 0.1 meq L−1), the cations Na, K, NH4, Ca and the anions, Cl, SO4, PO4 and HCO3. Nitrogen was mainly (> 90%) present as ammoniacal N, with ammonium bicarbonate being the dominant compound. Urea and urate decomposed during storage. Heavy metal concentrations in urine samples were low compared with other organic fertilizers, but copper, mercury, nickel and zinc were 10–500 times higher in urine than in precipitation and surface waters. In a pot experiment with15N labelled human urine, higher gaseous losses and lower crop uptake (barley) of urine N than of labelled ammonium nitrate were found. Phosphorus present in urine was utilized at a higher rate than soluble phosphate, showing that urine P is at least as available to crops as soluble P fertilizers.

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Kirchmann, H., Pettersson, S. Human urine - Chemical composition and fertilizer use efficiency. Fertilizer Research 40, 149–154 (1994).

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Key words

  • heavy metals
  • ionic composition
  • 15N- and32P-tracer
  • plant nutrients
  • pot experiment