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Another post on human urine in compost

14 years ago

I just couldn't stand it, okay?

And I didn't want to hijack another thread, so here we are.

YES, there is salt in human urine. There are also a lot of other valuable nutrients. We've all been bombarded with info that says sodium is bad, but it's only EXCESS that is bad. The human body will deteriorate without salt, and so will plants.

There are many soils that are lacking in sodium, which is a necessary nutrient. Is yours one of them? If your table beets, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, apples or potatoes aren't doing well, you might have a deficiency. What does your soil test say?

The western states generally have a higher sodium content in the soils than other places (overall). I'm in a western state and the sodium in my soil is 1%, which isn't deficient, but not high, either. I could go higher without any problems.

If you have good calcium/magnesium levels, your soil can tolerate a lot more sodium than if they're poor. If you don't have a soil compaction/hardpan problem, having enough calcium in the soil will flush excess sodium right out. If you have excess sodium with good calcium/magnesium saturations, you may be short in sulfur, and adding some will also move the excess sodium out of your soil. What does your soil test say?

The people who are afraid of salt in urine are probably the same people who dump loads and loads of manure on their garden. Do they think that the horses and cows only poop out the manure and then run to a urinal to pee? Sorry, but all that animal waste is tromped together. There's salt in horse and cow urine, too, and even more in chicken poop. Why draw the line at human salt?

Some people flat out refuse to test their soils, and they don't know what they've got in excess or what their soil is deficient in. Maybe they're afraid they won't know how to read it, or that it will be so bad that it will give them nightmares, or that it will just be a waste of eight or ten whole dollars. Maybe they're just afraid and don't even know why. Feed fear and it grows; shake it out in the sunlight and it goes away.

What's the point in living in fear? Get the darn soil tested and find out where you stand. Maybe you NEED sodium, and all this time you were afraid to add urine to your compost pile. You had a free nutrient (among many others) and you squandered it with a bunch of nice, clean drinking water. Where's the sense of that?

Soil tests just don't cost that much. Personally, I would have a local lab test it, and then have another lab test it. Compare the results, just for fun. Compare the recommendations, for even more fun. (Neither will probably ever match.)

But DON'T cross the results of one with the recommendations of another, as they all tend to differ to some extent, and some by quite a bit. And don't bother to ask one lab to analyze the results of another lab, another recipe for disaster.

In fact, it wouldn't hurt to get your soil tested every year. Try to do it at the same time of year. Apply some of the nutrients the lab says to apply. How is it doing the next year? Is it okay? Did you go overboard? Did bringing your calcium/magnesium rates into line suddenly make other nutrients more available?

You won't know without a test. You can dump on all the manure and compost in the world and still be short of something crucial. But you won't know without a soil test. And all the second-guessing in the world isn't going to change anything.

Okay, I'm done. (pant, pant!)


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