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Peak P? Phosphorus, food supply spurs Southwest initiative
Date:4/15/2010

ample, she notes in the sustainable P blog (http://sustainablep.wordpress.com/ ) that there "is an imbalance between the northern and southern hemispheres with respect to realized societal benefits of P. Significant amounts of P rock are shipped from mines in Africa to the northern hemisphere for conversion to fertilizer and application to crops. Yet, disproportionately little of this P is returned to Africa in terms of fertilizer or food. Indeed, commercial fertilizers are not affordable by many African farmers."

Launch of the Sustainable P Initiative, and subsequent events planned throughout the year, should bring clarity to such concerns, say initiative leaders. It should also advance local and regional collaborations with partners in agriculture, industry, policy, and the public to fend off dire future scenarios.

"The solutions are out there. We just need to start thinking now," Elser says. "Conservation of P is one effective strategy. In the pathway from mine, to farmer, to fork, and beyond, there is significant P waste." For example, 'waste' P in urine, feces, and agricultural runoff could potentially be transformed into a valuable source of fertilizer. A vegetarian diet would also reduce waste.

The Earth Day event in Arizona offers the public an opportunity for discussion, with an "elements and experts" mixer that puts attendees in touch with a range of subject experts in agribusiness, ecosystem ecology, bioenergy and wastewater engineering, bioengineering of food crops, agricultural ecology and biogeochemistry. Hosts include Bruce Rittmann, Regents' Professor with the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering; Roberto Gaxiola, an assistant professor in the School of Life Sciences; Laura Turnbull, a research associate with the School of Sustainability; in addition to Elser, Childers, Edwards, McCrackin and others.


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Contact: Margaret Coulombe
margaret.coulombe@asu.edu
480-727-8934
Arizona State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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