Students Create Farming System With One Surprising Bodily Fluid

A group of Mexican students have created carpet that can grow crops with human urine. The product is geared toward those in developing countries with limited resources, and the filtering system makes urine a valuable fertilizer.


May 17 2019, Updated 12:27 p.m. ET

For those that have a dog as a pet, they’ll likely know that their urine can kill grass and plants. The acids contained in the urine will burn away at the lawn. However, if it’s diluted enough, it can actually become an incredibly useful plant fertilizer. That’s the amazing process behind RISE, a carpet that grows crops by urinating on it.

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Three Mexican students have been working on RISE for the past eight months: Dominik Bini Falconi, Denisse Ojeda Rodriguez, and Jose Luis Galindo Ortiz. The harvesting system is made from biodegradable products and contains the seeds needed for the plant and filters to make the urine usable to grow the crops. It’s intended for those that live in refugee camps and have limited resources for agriculture.

Dominik explained in a translated report on SinEmbargo that this method provides a way for people to preserve their water instead of using it to grow crops. He believes it provides advantages over standard H2O: “When the urine goes through the filters it eliminates certain substances; Leaves the urine with sufficient nutrients for the plants. In fact, it is even better than water.”

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What’s in urine that helps it grow plants? Nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. Experiments have shown that plants using urine as an ingredient in their growth have actually developed big and healthy fruits and vegetables. This is a process that’s already been used in developing countries as it’s one of the cheapest fertilizers that you can get.

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Those that live in refugee camps must restart their economy, and many of them are dealing with food shortages. This product will be given to families throughout these camps that will feature many different crops. Not only will this aim to cure the food issue, but it encourages the population to trade with each other. This is especially helpful for areas where agriculture isn’t even a possibility.

RISE won the Eddie Squire Award at the 2017 RSA Student Design Awards. The competition puts young entrepreneurs on a platform to showcase amazing products that benefit real-world issues. Products that features the best “innovative, practical solutions to social problems” are awarded cash prizes and paid industry placements to promote their inventions.

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Dominik and his team from the Instituto Tecnologico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey in Puebla, Mexico, took on one of the RSA’s challenges to receive the award. Specifically, it was to find a “solution that utilizes ‘advanced textiles’ to improve wellbeing or the quality of people’s lives.” Having a product that is able to conserve an important resource like water and requiring just human waste to make it work is a tremendous accomplishment.


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