Navigation Links
Helping feed the world without polluting its waters
Date:2/3/2011

This release is available in French.

A growing global population has lead to increasing demands for food. Farmers around the world rely, at least in part on phosphorus-based fertilizers in order to sustain and improve crop yields. But the overuse of phosphorus can lead to freshwater pollution and the development of a host of problems, such as the spread of blue-green algae in lakes and the growth of coastal 'dead zones'.

A further issue is that phosphorus comes from phosphate rock, a non-renewable resource of which there are limited supplies in such geopolitically charged areas as Western Sahara and China.

Now, for the first time ever, a detailed global map has been produced showing imbalances in the way that phosphorus, an essential plant nutrient, is being used around the world. "Typically, people either worry about what happens when an excess of phosphorus finds its way into the water, or they focus on what happens when we run out of phosphorus," says Graham MacDonald, a PhD student in the Department of Natural Resource Sciences at McGill University, who led the study. "This is the first study that illuminates the issue on a global scale and suggests that these are not separate problems that the issue is one of distributing the phosphorus we've got."

The study used detailed agronomic information about how much phosphorus is applied to soils in fertilizers and manures for more than 100 different food, feed, and fibre crops produced around the world in 2000. The results point to large imbalances in phosphorus use, with both the overuse of phosphorus in some parts of the world and phosphorus deficits in others. There were some surprising findings. While it is typically assumed that phosphorus deficits exist in only the poorer countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and phosphorus surpluses dominate in the wealthy nations of Europe and North America, in fact phosphorus levels vary widely within most nations with surpluses and deficits commonly occurring side-by-side in a single region. Furthermore, countries such as Ukraine, long-known as the Russian empire's 'bread basket', is one area that now suffers from phosphorus deficits, while eastern China and southern Brazil have been identified as phosphorus 'hotspots', where surplus phosphorus from the intensive use of fertilizers pose a danger of being lost from farmlands in runoff where it may pollute freshwater supplies.

"Until you can quantify how phosphorus is actually currently being used," MacDonald says, "it's difficult for policy-makers to go ahead and make informed decisions at a national or global scale."

Now they will have a tool to help them do so.


'/>"/>

Contact: Katherine Gombay
katherine.gombay@mcgill.ca
514-398-2189
McGill University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. University of Houston researchers helping Pentagon build mind-controlled prosthetics
2. FSU researchers helping K-12 teachers bring science down to Earth
3. Helping fish get rid of the Ich
4. USDA scientists helping keep in-demand smoked salmon safe to eat
5. DGAC report offers food and nutrition practitioners insights on helping combat obesity epidemic
6. Neutrons helping ORNL researchers unlock secrets to cheaper ethanol
7. Helping the brains messengers get from A to B
8. New psychological intervention program shows promise in helping those with bowel diseases
9. Helping hearts, spinal cords and tendons heal themselves
10. Helping the NRC look below the surface
11. New insights into helping marine species cope with climate change
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/23/2017)... and ITHACA, N.Y. , June ... Cornell University, a leader in dairy research, today announced ... designed to help reduce the chances that the global ... onset of this dairy project, Cornell University has become ... Sequencing the Food Supply Chain, a food safety initiative ...
(Date:5/16/2017)... , May 16, 2017   Bridge ... health organizations, and MD EMR Systems , ... development partner for GE, have established a partnership ... Portal product and the GE Centricity™ products, including ... EMR. These new integrations will ...
(Date:4/18/2017)... April 18, 2017  Socionext Inc., a global expert in SoC-based ... edge server, the M820, which features the company,s hybrid codec technology. ... by Tera Probe, Inc., will be showcased during the upcoming Medtec ... show at the Las Vegas Convention Center ... Click here ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:7/18/2017)... ... July 18, 2017 , ... Nanomedical Diagnostics, ... development, announces the launch of a new NTA biosensor chip for use with ... study the kinetics of polyhistidine-tagged (His-tagged) molecules quickly and reliably. , “Recombinant ...
(Date:7/18/2017)... Basel, Switzerland (PRWEB) , ... July 18, 2017 ... ... for R&D, today announced that Merck, a leading science and technology company, has ... develop innovative therapeutics for the therapeutic areas of Oncology, Immunology, and Neurodegenerative Diseases. ...
(Date:7/18/2017)... ... July 18, 2017 , ... Blood centers traditionally see a dangerous drop ... summer is a struggle for community blood centers as high schools are out and ... of Commerce is teaming up with the South Texas Blood & Tissue ...
(Date:7/18/2017)... ... July 18, 2017 , ... Recently recognized by CIO ... announces the migration of its flagship cloud-based product Planet Life Cycle – a ... work management system that merges strategic and financial planning with execution. The solution ...
Breaking Biology Technology: