FRANCE – Ever imagined urine as a fertilizer? There is a high likelihood that it has never occurred in your wildest of dream that the pee you flush down the toilet on a daily basis could be used to nourish crops in the fields.
Turns out, urine is naturally rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and growth factors, urine plays a nutritive role in the production of microbial biomass of agronomic interest.
Instead of letting all this go down the drain, France’s Toopi Organics is harnessing this great potential of urine to produce biofertilizers that can be used to sustainably grow crops.
The biostimulant reclaims the valuable nutrients lost when we flush and turns them into an affordable and environmentally friendly fertilizer that farmers can use to sustainably grow their crops.
“By using urine as a growing medium to produce biofertilizers, Toopi Organics addresses the urgent issues of climate change, biodiversity loss and closing the loop on the nutrients cycle,” CEO Alexandra Carpentier said.
The process is also less expensive than the chemical inputs currently used in agriculture. “Our patented solution offers lower prices to farmers,” claimed the CEO. “When one farmer replaces half of their chemical fertilizers and uses our product instead, they will keep the same yield and save 37% of costs for corn, for example.”
To make the biostimulants, company first collects urine from places “where people pee a lot” like gas stations, schools and music festivals, all within a close radius of its plant near Bordeaux. When there, it is put into biofermentators where it is used as a growth medium.
The finished product, obtained after a few days of fermentation, is bacteria concentrated in a liquid that can be spread directly on the ground.
For avoidance of doubt, Toopi Organics does not use urine as fertilizer, stresses Carpentier. “We use it as a growth medium for microorganisms of agronomic interest.
That means that these micro-organisms will make the nitrogen, the phosphorus, the nutrients that are naturally present in the environment but in forms that the crops can’t catch. Our microorganisms make these nutrients available for crops.”
Toopi Organics novel fertilizer is timely as fertilizer prices have been skyrocketing recently mainly due to the war in Ukraine that has halted supplies from both Russia and Ukraine, major world suppliers.
The rising energy costs in Europe have further made local production of fertilizers across Europe unsustainable, forcing fertilizer makers to shut down production.
With urine, however, the potential of supply is almost infinite. “Human urine is an unlimited resource, after all. The European population discharges 240 billion liters of urine per year.
The supply is also several times over better for the environment than inorganic fertilizers. According to the company, the carbon footprint of 1 litre of the biostimulant represents only 0.08 keq.CO2, in other words 50 to 150 times less than 1 kg of mineral fertilizer.
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