08/21/2015

How To Be A Garden Whiz

8:38 minutes

The Rich Earth Institute promotes collecting and using human urine as a plant fertilizer. Here, Abe Noe-Hays, a co-founder of the institute, applies pasteurized urine to a test bed of lettuce. Photo by Marcin Szczepanski/Senior Multimedia Producer, University of Michigan, College of Engineering
The Rich Earth Institute promotes collecting and using human urine as a plant fertilizer. Here, Abe Noe-Hays, a co-founder of the institute, applies pasteurized urine to a test bed of lettuce. Photo by Marcin Szczepanski/Senior Multimedia Producer, University of Michigan, College of Engineering

Fertilizing your garden or crops could be as easy as “one, two, pee.” That’s right—urine, which contains both nitrogen and phosphorus—could help you grow tomatoes (as shown by researchers in Finland) or even increase your hay yield (in the case of a Vermont farmer). The Rich Earth Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont has pioneered the reuse of urine as fertilizer on a community-wide scale. The group calls the method “pee-cycling,” and it began collecting urine from more than 170 volunteers in 2012. Krista Wigginton, an assistant professor of environmental engineering, has been working with the Institute to develop methods for sanitizing the urine before it’s put to use. She joins Ira to discuss why urine might make a good fertilizer and how using it this way might lessen water pollution.


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Segment Guests

Krista Wiggington

Krista Wigginton is an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Meet the Producer

About Becky Fogel

Becky Fogel is a newscast host and producer at Texas Standard, a daily news show broadcast by KUT in Austin, Texas. She was formerly Science Friday’s production assistant.

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