Toopi Organics, the startup that makes organic urine-based fertilizer

While the price of mineral fertilizers is rising, a Gironde start-up is developing a natural, effective, non-polluting and inexpensive agricultural fertilizer from human urine.

Urine transformed into “responsible” fertilizer through an innovative process

The thought of using our urine to fertilize crops is nothing new in itself. We have long known about its nutritional value (in particular its nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium contents) and its ability to fertilize crops. Unfortunately, if the famous nutritious minerals essential to plants are indeed present in urine, they are present in too small amounts to be able to use the famous liquid as such, as a fertilizer. The innovative aspect of the project, led by startup Toopi Organics, is therefore elsewhere.

The idea brought by Michael Roes, president and founder of Topi Organicsand his partner the doctor in ecotoxicology Pierre Huguier, is based on theuse of purified human urine (but having retained its minerals and trace elements) as a culture medium for bacteria of agricultural interest (which participate, among other things, in the fixation of atmospheric nitrogen, in the solubilization of phosphorus and potassium, etc.).

Through a “low tech” process (which consumes little energy and few resources), they have developed a “sanitized, stabilized and deodorized” biological fertilizer that can compete with conventional mineral fertilizers in terms of efficiency (product tested by INRA in Grignon) and price. On June 3, 2022 in Loupiac-de-la-Réole (Gironde), 3 years after its creation and a dozen innovation awards in hand, the startup opens its first plant to recover human urine as an agricultural fertilizer, capable of processing 250,000 liters of urine per year.

Beginning of 2023 (date on which Toopi Organics must receive marketing authorization in France), farmers will thus be able to access a effective organic fertilizer, 20 times cheaper than current fertilizers and from a renewable natural raw material.

Environmental problems

If the farming community appears to be the first beneficiary of this innovation, it is not the only one. As evidenced by the support of ADEME (French Agency for the Environment and Energy Management) since 2019. And for good reason: the Topi Organics project is strongly aligned with the environmental and economic concerns of our time. :

  • The possibility of locally produce an ecological and sustainable agricultural fertilizerwhile, conversely, not only mineral fertilizers (used mainly by farmers) are imported up to 40% from outside Europe (the largest supplier is Russia), but, in addition, the production of these fertilizers has a strong environmental impact (extraction of raw material, processing);
  • The possibility of having a 100% available fertilizer for plantswhile part of mineral fertilizers is leached into groundwater and rivers before being consumed by crops, which causes pollution;
  • The possibility of take urine treatment out of the drinking water cycle. The current treatment of our urine is not only expensive and energy-intensive, it is also an ecological aberration when we know that billions of liters of drinking water a year in Europe are wasted in our flushes (read: Saving water in the Garden).

The challenge of urine collection

The success of the project largely depends on the organization of urine collection. he passes throughinstallation of urinals (female and male) without water, with collection tanks, in high-traffic areas. Large establishments have already been persuaded, the significant water savings making it possible to quickly monetize new facilities. The system is already in place at Futuroscope, in some motorway rest areas, but also in some festivals, stadiums (particularly the Parc des Princes), colleges, secondary schools and companies, and will be able to supply the Loupiac-of-the- the- -Reole. I’objective is to set up 20 factories in France in 5 yearswhich will take the form of territorial units, based on partnerships with agricultural cooperatives and communities.

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