Unexplored use of refined urine from local cows: a sustainable plant protection approach

My hometown is in the vegetable zone of Nepal where agriculture is the major livelihood for smallholders. My grandparents are farmers and we have an orange orchard with around 200 plants. In addition to this, there is cultivation of vegetables in a small fraction of the land. My grandfather used to take cow urine in a bottle and would spray it on trees and vegetables saying that it will eradicate pest infestation. But I wondered how urine, itself being excreta, would solve the problem of pest infestation.

In the steady pace of commercialization, farmers are having a tough time to save their plants from infestation of pests and diseases. From the plantation crops to vegetables, farmers have faced bitter experiences. The most commonly used strategy to control plant disease is the use of chemical agents. However, the frequent use of these chemical agents has resulted in certain hazardous effects. These chemicals can have potentially severe drawbacks such as high cost, toxicity to non-target organisms, residual problems and development of resistance in pathogens. So, there is need for bio-degradable, eco-friendly and holistic approaches for controlling this emerging trouble.

When I used ask my father about using cow urine he would convince me of its importance. In Ayurveda, cow urine has been greatly mentioned for its effective pharmacological action in curing various diseases seen in plants. Its extensive use in Ayurvedic preparations since time immemorial is cited in ancient Indian Holy texts like Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita, Vridha Bhagabhatt, Atharva Veda, Bhavaprakash, Rajni Ghunti, Amrtisagar. (Pathak Kumar, 2003).  Many beneficial elements, chemical properties, potentialities and constituents help in removing most of the ill effects and imbalances in the plants due to diversified infectious agents. The urine has the capacity to kill pesticides and herbicides resistant bacteria, viruses and fungus. Those arduous creatures are helpless towards its action.

Now, as a student of agriculture, I find those readings convincing. After having read about methods in managing the crop pest, I respect my father’s idea of using urine instead of chemicals. I always admire the ideas and farsightedness of our ancestors. Several biological activities such as anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-helminthic and anti-microbial, have proved cow urine to be most sustainable plant protecting natural chemical. Previously, they used unrefined urine but now I am proposing the ideas of refined urine, free from external parasites.

The constituents of cow urine is 95% water, 2.5% urea and remaining 2.5% a mixture of salts, hormones, enzymes and minerals. According to the biological estimation of cow urine, it contains sodium, nitrogen, sulphur, Vitamins (A, B, C, D, E), minerals, manganese, iron silicon, chlorine, magnesium, citric, succinic, calcium salts, phosphate, lactose, carbolic acid, enzymes, creatinine and hormones (Jain et Al, 2010), a perfect package of macro and micro nutrients. The pH of urine depends on the freshness. It is slightly acidic but which mixed with water it reacts with calcium carbonate and other bases making it neutral.

Applying prepared solution to the field

I am fascinated by the idea of my father and I am working with cow urine in combination with plant parts possessing anti-fungal and anti-pesticidal properties to make a botanical pesticide. I am using that on vegetables and am really impressed with its effect. Now, I am willing to take a scientific and innovative approach for this crop protection measure.  There are many cow farms situated in across our country. They are doing their best in dairy sector but with this idea their income will be accelerated and small holders will be benefited. Pure distilled urine with certain interventions will facilitate in fighting against pest infestations. The distilled urine will be economical for poor farmers and will help them get rid of rapid crop decline and boost productivity.

The beneficiaries of this idea will be specifically 80% smallholder farmers and all those involved in agriculture in general. As the approach is economical and quite sustainable, the adoption rate will be higher if we could provide steam distillation facilities to the agriculture stations and disseminate the idea of botanical pesticides round nation. Those who are running cow farms will be economically boosted from side business, milk and urine both will generate income. On the other hand, farmers will be uplifted due to less investment in the pest and nutrient management.

Yes! I accept that in the context of Nepal, we are still unable to adopt new agricultural inventions but on the other hand we lack a visionary approach in agriculture. The resources being utilized are enough to bring longevity in the cultivation if they are researched for their effects and scientifically operated.

Susmita Sigdel, Nepal

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