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Faidherbia albida

Plant Information Online

Feedback about Making Potting Mix

Sprouting grains

Chickpea Seeds from ICARDA

Human Urine as a Fertilizer



Faidherbia albida

Tony Rinaudo (working with World Vision Australia) responded to the article about Faidherbia albida in EDN 107 with helpful comments. “In West Africa, crops growing under a canopy of the nitrogen fixing F. albida trees produce an extra 2.5 to 3 tons of stalks per hectare and two and a half times the grain (equating to an extra 1,200 to 1,500 tons of grain) with three times the protein content, compared to crops growing in the open. Twenty-five trees per hectare provide a full fodder ration for one to one-and-a-half sheep per year. This is three times the optimal stocking rate for the Sahel. The high protein seed pods are called sheep biscuits in Ghana. The trees also host cattle egret and many other predators of insects, helping to protect crops against pests. An adult egret for example eats 30 to 50 locusts per day.

Plant Information Online

ECHO intern Scott Britton found a very helpful FAO website that provides plant information for many of the plants we promote: http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home

Feedback about Making Potting Mix

Dan Hemenway wrote to us after reading EDN 106. “By the way, one reason why charred rice hulls may work well in potting mixes is that any form of charcoal improves the capacity of soil to hold nutrients and release them to plants.

Sprouting Grains

Wafula Ferdinand, coordinating officer for Biogardening Innovations, wrote to us regarding the article in EDN 106 on sprouting cereals for food. “Many thanks for the rich information that your organization has been sharing world wide. I am an ECHO network member and receive your hard copy of [ECHO Development Notes].

“In…issue 106, I was particularly keen [about the article] on sprouting cereals for food. In the community where I am working (Bunyore) here in Western Kenya, farmers usually sprout maize before planting. This ensures [that every planted seed is viable] and lessens the period that crops usually stay in the soil.

Questions and Concerns about the Use of Urine as a Fertilizer

Alkalinity of Urine. Urine in storage can reach a pH of 9.0.

HIV/AIDS. A person reading a draft of the urine article asked whether HIV/AIDS would be a concern with the use of urine as a fertilizer.

Controlling the Odor of Urine. Dr. Arnat Tancho recommends mixing a small amount of microbial solution or earthworm leachate in a liquid fertilizer solution of 1 part urine and 2 parts water. 

Applying Urine. One source quoted in the urine article recommended against stirring the urine before applying it as a fertilizer. 

Urea Toxicity. How common is urea toxic to plants?

Age of Urine in ECHO Trial. The urine that was used was up to two months old.

Micronutrients in Soluble Fertilizer used in ECHO Trial. The 16-3-16 soluble synthetic fertilizer used in the trial at ECHO contained calcium, magnesium, boron, zinc, iron, molybdenum, copper and manganese.

Tomatoes and Nitrogen. Several people agreed with Mark Hare’s assessment regarding the poor production of tomatoes that were given urine as a fertilizer. 

Plant Availability of Phosphorus


Human Urine as a Fertilizer

Dawn Berkelaar

One high quality and universally available source of all the major macronutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) is human urine. Using human urine as fertilizer is not unprecedented, but for various reasons in most countries it is not commonly considered as an option, especially for growing vegetables.

Chickpea Seeds from ICARDA

Tim Motis

Looking for a nutritious legume that thrives in dry, cool conditions? You might want to try Cicer arietinum, referred to as chickpea and also by many other common names such as garbanzo, gram and bengal gram. Chickpea is noted for drought tolerance. It will produce a crop with an annual rainfall of 26-39 in (650-1000 mm), typical of semi-arid regions. Consequently, it has received attention as an alternative crop for areas where rainfall patterns have shifted to the extent that farmers cannot rely on the higher amounts of rainfall they would normally expect. Though often grown in more temperate areas, ECHO has chickpea seed from the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA), for evaluation in “southerly latitudes.”

Writers’ Supplement to EDN 108

We often come across interesting material related to articles in EDN that could not fit into the available space in the issue. We share the most relevant of those here.