A Vermont organization is turning human urine into fertilizer that is being used on a half-dozen farms in that state and would like to expand the service into New Hampshire.

“We have people who are interested in New Hampshire, certainly,” said Arthur Davis, operations director for Rich Earth Institute of Brattleboro, Vt., which has been collecting urine and turning it into fertilizer for a dozen years.

Rich Earth Institute already collects urine in the Granite State via its portable toilet business. It has a waste-hauling permit that allows it to rent out the toilets, which have a special trap in the bowl which separates urine from solid waste and then take them back to Vermont for processing.

Davis said the institute has talked with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services about getting the permits needed to spread the resulting fertilizer on Granite State farms but so far hasn’t gone through the whole process.

A recent story by Community News Service said the institute collects urine from 230 donors. Some pee into a funnel screwed to a jug, cap the container and ship it off, while others have a specialized toilet to collect urine separately.

The urine is trucked to a collection center for treatment. The Rich Earth Institute says it “has developed a computer-controlled pasteurizer with a high-efficiency heat exchanger to sanitize urine quickly and energy efficiently.” The resulting product goes into a tank and can be spread onto crop fields by a tractor.

The practice, sometimes called “peecycling,” is seen as a cheap and eco-friendly alternative to synthetic fertilizers. It is also seen as a way for people to rethink their views on what actually constitutes waste.

Community News Services said the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program has given the group close to $325,000 since 2013 to explore urine’s role in fertilizer.

The group’s story noted one major concern: pharmaceuticals. Many medicines pass through the body and there is concern that they could get concentrated into fertilizer, then passed into food crops. A six-year research study with the University of Michigan and the University at Buffalo found that they don’t accumulate in crop tissue at significant levels, the story said.

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