A start-up produces urine-based fertilizers (1/2)

Useful pee A start up produces urine based fertilizers 12

This start-up from the Bordeaux region offers an ecological and economic solution that could see great growth: the recycling of urine in the form of agricultural fertilizers.

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Start a start-up who recyclesurine, you had to dare! Michael Roes created Toopi Organics in February 2019: “I’ve had enough of this shitty world!” I wanted to give meaning to my life. While making my vegetable garden, I started making my own fertilizers and one thing leading to another, I had the idea of to recycle urine. »

The idea is simple. What soil nutrients does a plant need? ofnitrogen, of phosphorus, of potassium and a multitude oftrace elements (copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, sulfur, zinc, etc). And these are the microorganisms of the ground, in particular bacteria, which make these elements available to plants by degrading the matter organic. The plant assimilates all this through its roots and in return provides many nutrients to micro-organisms such as sugars. Michael Roes’ patented idea is to use urine as a culture medium for bacteria for agricultural purposes.

“You just heat the urine with a source of sugar and then add strains of bacteria, he explains. In a few days, we obtain the finished product: a liquid concentrated in bacteria to be spread directly on the ground. » This product is not a fertilizer strictly speaking – it does not provide nutrients – it is another type of fertilizer, a microbial product called a biostimulant: thanks to the bacteria it contains, it helps plants to assimilate nutrients. There are many. Their quality depends on the microbial strains used. If they get it, themarketing authorization they requested in France will be a guarantee. “We should market our first biostimulant for the assimilation of phosphorus in 2022, announces Michael Roes. For agriculture, it will be an alternative to fertilizers phosphates produced from mining operations in Morocco or Russia. »

Will follow a biostimulant allowing fertilization nitrogenous from soy and others legumes. “According to the first evaluations carried out by the Astria agronomic testing platform, this product is just as effective and much more competitive than the products currently available on the market., he continues. We also prepare fungicide or insecticide products that can replace the pesticides. The idea is to adapt the product to the local needs of the soil, by enriching the urine with ad-hoc bacteria. » What about drug residues? “Our solution is in any case less polluting than the expensive technologies of wastewater treatment plants (also based on bacteria) which discharge water into rivers while the ground is a natural filtering medium, he assures. In addition, the separative collection of urine will be necessary if we want to completely eliminate these pollutants. Therefore, so much to value it! »

Local partnerships

Toopi Organics’ development model is based on local partnerships with communities, collectors and cooperatives within a radius of 100 kilometers around the processing units. The first is installed in Loupiac de la Réole (Gironde) and will be able to produce 2,500 liters per day. A second is planned near Poitiers. On the collection side, this means replacing conventional water urinals with dry urinals connected to a recovery tank. The approach seems convincing. Partnerships are multiplying: with The Fumainerie (collection from private individuals in Bordeaux), the departments and regions to equip colleges and high schools, Vinci for motorway rest areas and Futuroscope. Local authorities are also interested: “1m3 of urine collected is 10 m3 less effluent to be treated in treatment plants! », says Michael Roes.

What about the business model? “Depending on the features, our products will cost four to five times less than current products, fertilizers or microbial products, for the same beneficial effects but without the risk of fluctuation, says Michael Roes. Urine is an inexhaustible and universal raw material! » Requests are pouring in, from more than 60 countries. The start-up announces a subsidiary in Belgium in 2022, discussions with the governments of Benin and Kenya, etc. As he explains: “Our solution is particularly suitable for Africa. It is enough to install dry toilets, no need for a water network orsanitation. And a low-cost fertilizer to boot! » Toopi Organics has received numerous innovation awards and is preparing a big fundraiser in 2022.

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