An assessment of university students and staff perceptions regarding the use of human urine as a valuable soil nutrient in South Africa
Background: The declines in soil fertility associated with insufficient commercial fertilizers have resulted in the use of organic manure (human urine and faeces) as a source of fertilizers for production and cultivation of crop plants. The aim of this study was to assess perceptions of students and workers at the University of Limpopo (Medunsa Campus) regarding the fertilizing effect of urine.
Methods: A total of 225 questionnaires were administered to staff and students. The questionnaire sought to establish the knowledge, attitude and behavioural changes as regards the use of urine as a fertilizer for the cultivation of vegetables.
Results: Descriptive statistical analysis of the data indicated that 86.8% of the respondents were unaware of any human urine use as a fertilizer, 82.7% and 81.1% would not eat spinach and maize fertilized with urine respectively. Only 38.3% said they would eat vegetables fertilized with animal urine making it more tolerable as compared to human urine. Health reasons were given as the main reasons why respondents were unwilling to eat crops fertilized with human urine. However, 69.9% of the respondents [74.3% females, 69.9% students, 75.0% (27-36) age group] were willing to change their attitudes and unwillingness if they were better informed about the safety of human urine use for agricultural purposes.
Conclusion: Education, awareness and reassurance on the importance and safety of urine would have to be done so that urine for agricultural purposes could become more acceptable to people.
Keywords: Urine, crops, fertilizers and education
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