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Human Hair as Fertilizer?

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I came across an interesting article on the Discovery Channel website, relating – as the title of this post implies – to the use of human hair as a natural fertilizer. I was glad to see that this wasn’t being touted as some revolutionary new concept, since people have almost certainly been farming/gardening (not to mention composting) with animal and human hair for a long time!

Here is a blurb from the article:

“We concluded that human hair can release a sufficient amount of nutrients to support crops,” said agricultural scientist Valtcho Zeliazkov of Mississippi State University in Verona. “This is a waste material with clear benefits for producers and the environment.”

The idea is not entirely new. In fact, hair-based fertilizer is already commercially available. A Florida-based company called SmartGrow, for one, sells hair-containing mats that gardeners place beneath or on top of their plants.

The company claims the mats add nutrients, hold in moisture, and battle weeds, while making chemicals unnecessary. Its Web site showcases a series of photographs depicting lush, healthy plants grown with the product and wimpy, wilted ones grown without it.

Source: Human Hair: The Next Green Fertilizer?

Be sure to follow the “SmartGrow” link (in the blurb) – this is such a cool concept! A prime example of a “why the heck didn’t I think of that?” idea. Of course, there are plenty of options out there for mulches etc, but in the vast majority of cases they seem to either be completely inert (such as the mats made out of recycled tires) or they have a very high C:N ratio – eg. wood chip mulch. A hair mat on the other hand would be a nice slow-release N-source, so you won’t run the risk of having nitrogen immobilization in the surface soil. On the contrary, you would end up fertilizing your plants while simultaneously retaining moisture and discouraging weed growth!

Apparently, Dr. Zeliazkov (quoted in the blurb) actually put the SmartGrow material to the test in plant growth trials, and the results seemed to indicate that hair works well as a fertilizer for slower growing plants – due to the fact that it can take a while before the nitrogen (and other nutrients in the hair) actually becomes available for the plants to use.

Anyway, this is definitely cool, and makes me feel like less of a weirdo for collecting my own head-buzzing leavings!

[tags]hair, fertilizer, composting, compost, nitrogen, plant growth, C:N ratio, crops, organic, natural, fur, decomposition[/tags]

Written by Compost Guy on January 23rd, 2009 with 3 comments.
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Read the comments left by other users below, or:

Get your own gravatar by visiting J.
#1. January 23rd, 2009, at 8:26 PM.

Surely you clip your nails over the compost heap too? (I know I do :))

Get your own gravatar by visiting Lee
#2. April 20th, 2009, at 11:48 AM.

Where did you Go? Haven’t heard from you for a couple of months.

Get your own gravatar by visiting Me
#3. June 2nd, 2009, at 10:27 PM.

Maybe its just me but the “SmartGrow link does not seem to work.

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