1. The prevailing agricultural system, known as conventional farming, has delivered tremendous gains in productivity and efficiency in the past 50 years. According to the World Bank, 70% to 90% of the recent rise in food production is as a result of conventional agriculture rather than greater acreage under cultivation. The utilization of external inputs like fossil fuel, synthetic fertilizers and pesticides often results in higher level of greenhouse gas emission, land degradation and depletion of natural capital, reduced natural resistance of crops to pests, loss of biodiversity, contribution to climate change and effect on human health. These adverse effects have necessitated an alternative farming system and an increasing advocacy for organic agriculture.
2. According to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) study team on organic farming and organic agriculture, “Organic farming is a system which avoids or largely excludes the use of synthetic inputs (such as fertilizers, pesticides, hormones, feed additives etc) and to the maximum extent feasible rely upon crop rotations, crop residues, animal manures, off-farm organic waste, mineral grade rock additives and biological system of nutrient mobilization and plant protection. Organic agriculture is an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony.”
3. Attaining a friendly and green environment has been a great concern worldwide and studies have shown that organic agricultural practice can promote ecological harmony, biodiversity, and biological cycles which are vital for environmental sustainability. In organic crop production, fertilizer and pesticide are the most limiting resources during organic farming practice. One of the cheapest sources of fertilizer and pesticide in organic farming is rabbit urine.
4. Rabbit used to be reared as pet, but the nutritional composition of rabbit meat has led to increasing rabbit production among farmers. Studies have further shown that rabbit excrete 300ml of urine daily and that this urine can improve soil fertility and control crop pests simultaneously.
5. Rabbits barely drink water, and as a result, their urine contains the highest level of nitrogen compared to other farm animals. The amount of phosphorus and potassium contents in rabbit urine can help eliminate deficiencies of these nutrients in the soil thereby enhancing crops growth. Rabbit urine is very rich in nitrogen, and it is very effective on vegetables at any stage of growth. It can also be used at the early stage of other crops like maize.
6. Like other fertilizers, there are also processes and precautions for applying rabbit urine as fertilizer. Rabbit urine is highly concentrated and can scorch crop, s it is to be diluted with water for safe use. It is best used as fertilizer by mixing it with water at a ratio of 1:5, that is, 1litre of urine to 5litre of water.
7. Rabbit urine fertilizer is best applied using fertigation or foliar application. For fertigation, the rabbit urine is diluted with the irrigation water and it is applied to the root zone using drip tubes or other means. For folia application, fertilizer is applied to the leaves, stems, and at times, root region. Rabbit urine can be made more effective and nutritionally better by adding maize starch and molasses and allowing it to ferment for 3weeks before using it. After 3weeks, the fertilizer is ready for use, but at a different rate of application. One liter of this mixture is to be diluted with 20litres of water.
8. While synthetic pesticides kill pests which, at times, may be beneficial to plants in terms of pollination, organic pesticides repel the pests from the plants. Rabbit urine is an organic pesticide as it repels insect pests through its pungent smell. To use as pesticide, a farmer would require to mix 2litres of concentrated rabbit urine with 3litres of water and spray the mixture on affected crops after every two weeks, 3 times to wipe the insects.
9. Rabbit production can be very lucrative as it can create multiple streams of income. Apart from rabbit production for meat, they can also be reared to harvest their urine and serve as an additional source of income. Rabbit urine not only provides farmers with cheap fertilizer and pesticide, but also serves as a source of revenue, especially for large scale rabbit farmers who can sell the urine and generate more income.