Peak phosphorus: our most important nutrient running out
12th January, 2010
It has no synthetic alternative and some scientists believe supplies may already be in a terminal decline. But there is still no international effort to tackle the massive agricultural problems that will come when the phosphorus runs out
There are no substitutes for phosphorus in agriculture.
That's the hard truth that appears in the 2009 issue of the United States Geological Service annual commodity survey for phosphorus.
It's printed in every issue in the same place in that dry official document, but now it seems to take on a special significance - in the last few years some analysts have claimed production of phosphorus has already peaked, and demand is rising continuously. It is becoming painfully clear that we need to start seriously looking at how we manage this vital nutrient.
Obtaining sufficient phosphorus is crucial for the survival of all forms of life – it forms an irreplaceable part of cell membranes, energy transfer molecules and DNA – it is truly part of every living thing.
Compared to how important phosphorus is to life's flourishing, it is often the hardest nutrient for organisms to obtain in the natural world, making it a 'limiting factor' of many ecosystems, or as science-fiction...
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