University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


Urine at Roskilde to be used for beer at the 2017 festival

100,000 litres of urine from festival-goers will be used as fertilizer to produce beer. It’s not gross, it’s smart, says University of Copenhagen professor

Large tanks are hooked up to urinals at this year’s Roskilde Festival. They’re there to collect urine. 100,000 litres of it.

It will then be used to fertilise malting barley crops and produce beer for 2017’s Roskilde festival.

Developed by the Danish Agriculture and Food Council, the initiative may be stomach-churning for some. However Jacob Magid, Associate Professor at the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, is enthusiastic about the project’s potential.

Organic and energy-saving

“Urine is an excellent fertilizer. It contains a lot of nutrients and has a high efficiency rate, nearly as good as a commercial fertilizer” says Magid. “Even though it’s not yet officially approved for organic production, it’s a good organic fertilizer.”

Using human urine as fertilizer also saves energy. “Our societies use a lot of energy removing elements such as nitrogen from our wastewater, which simultaneously, we extract from the air to produce fertilizer” he says.

“While people may think it’s disgusting to use it in conjunction with food-production, it’s also disgusting to pour urine into water and then use up energy trying to clean it out.”

Psychedelic beer

However this isn’t just anyone’s urine, its urine from Roskilde festival, where festival attendees may have smoked a joint, overconsumed alcohol or even taken drugs.

“Such substances, for example psychedelic drugs, can certainly affect the urine. However it’s almost impossible that this can carry through to the crop. The substances are neutralized when they enter the earth, so I have no concerns about that” says Magid.

“I can promise that you won’t be drinking psychedelic beer in 2017.”

How it works

It’s predicted that the 100,000 litres of urine will contribute to producing between 190,000 and 238,000 liters of beer.

The collected urine from Roskilde Festival will be driven out to a farm in Køge, south of Copenhagen. It will be stored in a pit for several months while it cleans itself out.

After four months authorities will test the urine. According to Magid, most of the bacteria will have died, but single parasites can remain. However he says this is normal for fertilisers.

Once the fertilizer has been approved, it will be used to fertilise malt barley crops on the farm in Køge. In 2016, they will be harvested for beer production, and if all goes to plan, Roskilde attendees will enjoy the beer at 2017’s festival.

Read the original article (in Danish)here.

Like us on Facebook for features, guides and tips on upcoming events. Follow us on Twitter for links to other Copenhagen academia news stories. Sign up for the University Post weekly newsletter here.