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Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering >> 2019, Volume 6, Issue 4 doi: 10.15302/J-FASE-2019274

Phosphorus use efficiency and fertilizers: future opportunities for improvements

. Department of Sustainable Agriculture Sciences, Rothamsted Research, North Wyke, Okehampton, EX20 2SB, UK.. Department of Plant Sciences, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, AL5 2JQ, UK

Accepted: 2019-09-23 Available online:2019-09-23

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Abstract

The continued supply of phosphate fertilizers that underpin global food production is an imminent crisis. The rock phosphate deposits on which the world depends are not only finite, but some are contaminated, and many are located in geopolitically unstable areas, meaning that fundamental changes will have to take place in order to maintain food production for a growing global population. No single solution exists, but a combination of approaches to phosphorus management is required not only to extend the lifespan of the remaining non-renewable rock phosphate reserves, but to result in a more efficient, sustainable phosphorus cycle. Solutions include improving the efficiency of fertilizer applications to agricultural land, alongside a better understanding of phosphorus cycling in soil-plant systems, and the interactions between soil physics, chemistry and biology, coupled with plant traits. Opportunities exist for the development of plants that can access different forms of soil phosphorus (e.g., organic phosphorus) and that use internal phosphorus more efficiently. The development of different sources of phosphorus fertilizers are inevitably required given the finite nature of the rock phosphate supplies. Clear opportunities exist, and it is now important that a concerted effort to make advances in phosphorus use efficiency is prioritized.

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