IGZ wins competition “Hochschulwettbewerb”

Back into the cycle: Human urine becomes recycled fertilizer for Berlin community gardens – Citizen Science project “Urban Cycles” made possible by award in university competition

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The university competition (“Hochschulwettbewerb”) is organized annually by “Wissenschaft im Dialog” (WiD). This year’s winners include the project “Urban Cycles: a Citizen Science project on sustainable fertilization with urine-based recycled fertilizers in Berlin community gardens”, coordinated by the Leibniz Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops (IGZ) in Großbeeren.

For socio-ecological transformation, a circular view of fertilizer and food production is central. An important nutrient resource is human urine, which can be converted into a safe, pollutant-free and effective recycled fertilizer. In the “Urban Cycles” project, a recycled fertilizer made from artificial urine will be tested in community gardens in Berlin. The C.R.O.P® fertilizer (Combined Regenerative Organic Food Production) developed by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) will be made available to the participating community gardens free of charge. The new recycled fertilizer comes from DLR research facilities that are currently still operated with artificial urine. The gardeners then conduct their own experiments with the C.R.O.P® fertilizer and document their results. In dialog sessions, they evaluate their observations together with researchers. The aim of the project is to interactively impart knowledge on sustainable fertilization to gardeners and to involve them in the scientific process and sociopolitical dialogue on recycled fertilizers in a participatory manner. Through open formats and the principle of “by gardeners for gardeners”, the jointly developed knowledge is to be made accessible to as many other interested parties as possible.

The “Urban Cycles” project team at the IGZ is a cooperation between the research group “Next-Generation Horticultural Systems” and the Science Management Team. The project is also supported by DLR in Cologne.

For the Urban Cycles project team and the 14 other winning teams, the project now continues: In March, they will take part in a kick-off workshop on the topic of science communication, followed by further training sessions and events in the course of the year, where the teams can also network with each other.

The project’s progress, experiences and results can be followed via the project website and social media. Exact details will be announced in a press release once the project team has taken the first steps.