The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: QotW - 14.06.09 - Are cremated ashes good for plant growth?  (Read 6472 times)

Offline thedoc

  • Forum Admin
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 511
  • Thanked: 12 times
    • View Profile
Would a scattering of your beloved's ashes be good for plant growth? Or could it be toxic? We take this question to Head of Horticulture Sally Petit at Cambridge University's Botanic Gardens.
 Listen to this Show

or 

If you want to discuss this show, or ask a question, this is the place to do it.
« Last Edit: 16/06/2014 10:27:48 by hannahcritchlow »


 

Offline thedoc

  • Forum Admin
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 511
  • Thanked: 12 times
    • View Profile
Discuss: Are cremated ashes good for plant growth?
« Reply #1 on: 16/06/2014 10:25:16 »
We answered this question on the show...





Hannah - So, it turns out that burning a body results in ashes that are rich in phosphates, calcium, potassium, and sodium. Could these benefit a plant? I went to visit Sally Petite, Head Gardener at the beautiful Cambridge University Botanic Gardens.



Sally - Itís really interesting concept, the idea of adding human ashes to plants to improve growth. All plants ultimately require a balance of what we call macronutrients which are things like nitrogen and potassium and also, micro-nutrients such as zinc and carbon and manganese. These all exist in plants in a very, very finely tuned balance. An excess of anyone of these individually can have an impact on plant growth. So for example, calcium will rapidly reduce the supply of nitrogen within a plant which affects protein and growth and result potentially in a poor yield of plants or fruit. An excess of calcium will also result in a reduction of the water control and photosynthesis and this can be apparent in things like browning, scorching and spotting of leaves. Again, with an excess of phosphorus, the fruits will mature early and you will actually potentially have a poor yield of crops because the plant hasnít actually established properly to support a very high yield. Similarly, an increase in salts or sodium can increase particularly osmotic pressure or the water pressure within a plant and actually, ultimately result in dehydration. So, potentially, the addition of human ash to a plant may in fact be a detrimental effect rather than a positive one.



Hannah - Thanks, Sally and it turns out that the nutritional content of ashes can vary between individuals, depending on diet, where you live and age. Plus, if mercury or gold fillings feature, traces of these in the ash could be toxic to the plant.



« Last Edit: 16/06/2014 10:25:16 by _system »
 

Bill Jenks

  • Guest
None
« Reply #2 on: 09/06/2014 13:30:10 »
Fascinating topic, well handled. And yet I'm left pondering - given that too much or little of anything in a plant pot would be detrimental, and that human 'cremains' are 3 to 4 kg / litres, I'm wondering what plant pot volume would be about right for a product that is plant + compost + cremains. For eg, at 5% cremains, the pot would be 60 Litres - indicating more a tree business than pot plant?!
 

Dean Harris

  • Guest
None
« Reply #3 on: 26/10/2016 20:46:44 »
How's about the nutritional value of someone who isn't cremated? I'd like to be buried in a pod with a tree on top. If I would be good for that tree, I can't think of a better way to recycle myself ... my own tree pumping out oxygen for other people to breathe! The business! Could even give myself to trainee surgeons, first 😃
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

None
« Reply #3 on: 26/10/2016 20:46:44 »

 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums