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As Florida seagrasses wither, a study shows a component of urine can help with restoration

Indian River Lagoon.jpg
Amy Green
/
WMFE
The Indian River Lagoon has suffered from widespread water quality problems and seagrass losses.

The UF study focused on struvite, a plentiful byproduct of the wastewater treatment process. The mineral contains nitrogen and phosphorus, both key ingredients in fertilizer.

A University of Florida study shows that a component of human urine can help with seagrass restoration. 
The study focused on struvite, a mineral produced by bacteria in the urinary tract that contains nitrogen and phosphorus, both key ingredients in fertilizer that help plants grow. 

It's also an abundant byproduct of the wastewater treatment process that is usually disposed of.

Conor MacDonnell, a marine scientist with the UF Department of Soil and Water Science, carried out the study. He says struvite can help restore seagrasses in some places, like where boats have left scars in seagrass beds.  

MacDonnell applied struvite to seagrass plots and found that, over time, it provided better growth, in addition to environmental and sustainability benefits.

“Nothing is going to be a silver bullet, but it can be an important component in certain environments for drastically improving potentially the restoration of this very ecologically important but very sensitive species,”  MacDonnell says.

But, he says, struvite is not suitable for water bodies like the northern Indian River Lagoon, where too much nitrogen and phosphorus have caused widespread seagrass losses. 

Copyright 2022 WMFE. To see more, visit WMFE.

Amy Green
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