Urine-fed algae boost tomato quality, say researchers

Algae fed on human urine then applied as a fertiliser yield sweeter, tastier tomatoes, according to Belgian researchers.

The researchers at Ghent University were investigating the recovery of potential fertilisers from domestic waste.

"Urine contains the majority of concentrated nitrogen and phosphorus present in domestic waste water," researcher Joeri Coppens explained.

"We managed to transform human urine to a stable and safe food solution that appeared to be excellent for the cultivation of tiny algae rich in valuable proteins called Spirulina."

The algae were then used as biological fertiliser in the cultivation of tomatoes, with remarkable results, he said. "They contained 30 per cent more sugars and 70 per cent more natural colour pigments than traditionally grown tomatoes."

He added: "This way of recovering fertilizers opens up new possibilities for the cultivation of food on the moon or during a mission to Mars."

The researchers are now further developing the project with several industry partners.

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