There was a rumor going around a couple of years ago that you could pee on a straw bale and it would turn into compost. The theory was nitrogen (in pee) plus carbon (in straw) equals compost. I liked the idea that pee could be useful, so I buried a straw bale in my yard to test it out, and wrote about it here.

18 months and many gallons of pee later, I dug it up–an incredibly stinky affair, but hey: science. The short story is that it didn’t work. At all. If anything I’d guess that whatever is in pee besides water has a preservative effect on the straw. There were a couple bugs and grubs, but really just a couple. There was no visible sign of any decay. My guess is that if I’d dumped water on that bale in the same quantity as the pee, it would have at least grown some mildew and broken down a little.

At this point, I have to assume the best place for pee is in the septic tank, as much as that pains my permaculture heart. I would love to be proven wrong about this, but don’t just tell me about a theory. Show me evidence.

Here’s mine. These images are of all the “decay” I could find after going through the entire stinky bale:


The bale, still buried. The level of the straw dropped about a foot over the course of 18 months and I topped it off, hoping that the drop meant decomposition, but it turned out it just compacted.


I found some kind of bug early on but never saw another of this kind.


And here are the 3 grubs I found.


Mostly it looked like this: Pee-soaked, compressed straw.


There was some discoloration like this.


Sal bug in a rare dry spot.