Tuesday, 30 Dec, 2008 Environment

Human Hair Used as Fertilizer for Edible Crops


Recently scientists found that human hair can be used as a nutrient source for agricultural crop production. It is known that usually, as a nutrient source, people use composted waste materials and byproducts. Now human hair from barbershops and hair salons can be used the same way if combined with additional compost.

It is worth mentioning that for several years human hair has been commercially available to crop producers, but till now there was no information regarding the fact that it could serve as a nutrient source in greenhouse container production. The research and its results were published by scientists from Mississippi State University in "HortTechnology." The finding of Vlatcho D. Zheljazkov, Juan L. Silva, Mandar Patel, Jelena Stojanovic, Youkai. Lu, Taejo Kim, and Thomas Horgan is meant to discover whether non-composted hair waste cubes could be used as a single source in growing horticulture crops.

In their research, scientists evaluated the productivity of lettuce, wormwood, yellow poppy, and feverfew. They grew these four crops in commercial growth environment by using untreated control, non-composted light and heavy hair cubes, a controlled-release fertilizer and a water-soluble fertilizer. By analyzing the results, researchers found that when hair waste cubes were used, the crops increased if compared to untreated control. However, they were lower than crops that underwent inorganic treatment.

The findings suggest that hair waster should not be used as a sole source for fast growing crops like lettuce.

According to Zheljazkov, the degradation and mineralization of hair waste could generate enough nutrients to plants, making it possible to grown crops similar to yields that were obtained after being exposed to fertilizers commonly applied in horticulture. But the researcher added that "it takes time for the hair to start degrading and releasing nutrients, as is reflected in lower yields in the hair treatments relative to the inorganic fertilizers for lettuce and wormwood."

Still extra studies are required to find whether human hair waste is safe for human health and can be used as a source for edible crops.

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