Dutch farmers are urging citizens to hand in their feces and urinate on 14 May. “We want circular agriculture, but our system has a big leak: we flush our own faeces and pee down the toilet. This means that valuable nutrients are lost that a farmer needs to grow sustainable food. It is definitely not durable. Our shit is what we need to solve this shit. With this campaign, we want to create awareness about closing this gap in the cycle “, says Theo Mulder, one of the initiators of the campaign.
At www.giveashit.frl it says where citizens can hand in their feces and pee on 14 May between 10 am and 12 noon. A farmer participates in each province. The pee and pee must be drug-free, otherwise the farmer must and will not use it. This national action is a follow-up to the action on 1 April (it was not an April Fool’s joke, but ‘serious shit’) to mobilize Frisian administrators, farmers’ organizations to solve this problem. The action is organized by Stichting Rondgang (Broodje Poep), Stichting Symphony of Soils and AERES MBO. The action is supported by Living Lab Fryslân, Frisian Environmental Federation and Circular Friesland Association.
Almost everything we eat comes from a farm. After digestion, the remaining resources just do not return to the farm. There is a major leak in the current cycle of minerals in the agricultural food system. All the minerals from human excrement do not return in it. The deficiency is supplemented with fertilizer. Because so many minerals are lost, there is a worldwide shortage. It is important that we as a society close the gap and break down the barriers that prevent the recycling of essential minerals and valuable substances.
Scientific research shows that in the Netherlands we lose 35 million kilos of phosphate, 110 million kilos of nitrogen and 34.5 million kilos of potassium every year. We just flush it down the toilet. This is definitely not durable. Kali is now mainly sourced from Russia. Phosphate from Morocco and nitrogen using fossil energy from the air. For 10 tonnes of calcium ammonium nitrate, 3,600 m3 of natural gas are needed. With current natural gas prices, costs are skyrocketing.
Society wants circular agriculture. With this action, we want to raise awareness to do better and close the gap. Farmers want that too and see the benefits of this. The very high fertilizer prices are accelerating this line of thinking. In the last century, fertilizers were very common. The drain well went over the grass area or was used in the kitchen garden. In the 1980s, sewage sludge was banned because of heavy metals. Because there was enough fertilizer, no one did anything about it. Now that the fertilizer is running low, it is back in the spotlight. The Netherlands is also the only European country that does not use sewage sludge in agriculture. In some countries, such as France, the majority return to agriculture. As Boer Niek Konijn emphasizes: “It’s not a very tasty concept, but if you look at where we are now, we desperately need it”.
There is a major leak in the current cycle of minerals in the agricultural food system. All the minerals from human feces do not return. The deficiency is supplemented with artificial fertilizers and livestock manure. Our food contains many (micro) nutrients, but only 1% of these nutrients are used by our body. We pee and pee the other 99%, the same amount that our country needs for the next harvest. Unfortunately, we do not return these nutrients to the soil, but import fertilizers from around the world. Kali is now mainly sourced from Russia. Phosphate from Morocco and nitrogen using fossil energy from the air. For 10 tonnes of calcium ammonium nitrate, 3,600 m3 of natural gas are needed. With current natural gas prices, costs are skyrocketing.
But in addition to the increasingly unfavorable costs, fertilizers lead to a deterioration of the soil. Fertilizers contain too few of the micronutrients that are essential for a healthy and nutritious soil. These micronutrients are abundantly present in our stools and urine streams. Scientific research shows that in the Netherlands we lose 35 million kilos of phosphate, 110 million kilos of nitrogen and 34.5 million kilos of potassium every year. We just flush it down the toilet.
Currently, our feces and urine streams are transported via the sewer system to the treatment plant. The same system that treats our shower, cooking and rainwater. It takes a lot of time and energy to return to clean water and various residual streams (such as sludge). The products extracted from these residues are usually not good enough or sufficient to feed the soil again.
For more information: www.giveashit.frl