University of Michigan civil and environmental engineering professor Krista Wigginton applies human urine derived fertilizer to beds of peonies at Nichols Arboretum in Ann Arbor on Monday, May 9, 2022. The "pee-cycling" effort is part of University of Michigan research that promotes human urine-based fertilizer as beneficial to the plants and to the environment. ANN ARBOR – A pair of University of Michigan researchers are putting the “pee” in peony.
Rather, they’re putting pee ON peonies.
Environmental engineering professors Nancy Love and Krista Wigginton are regular visitors to the Ann Arbor school’s Nichols Arboretum, where they have been applying urine-based fertilizer to the heirloom peony beds ahead of the flowers’ annual spring bloom.
It’s all part of an effort to educate the public about their research showing that applying fertilizer derived from nutrient-rich urine could have environmental and economic benefits.
“At first, we thought people might be hesitant. You know, this might be weird. But we’ve really experienced very little of that attitude,” Wigginton said. “In general, people think it’s funny at first, but then they understand why we’re doing it and they support it.”
Love is co-author of a study published in the Environmental Science & Technology journal that found urine diversion and recycling led to significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and energy.
Urine contains essential nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus and has been used as a crop fertilizer for thousands of years.Love said collecting human urine and using it to create renewable fertilizers — as part of what she calls […]