Looming Scarcity of Phosphate Rock and Intensification of Soil Phosphorus Research

Revista Brasileira de Ciência do Solo. 2015;39(3):637-642 DOI 10.1590/01000683rbcs20140819


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Journal Title: Revista Brasileira de Ciência do Solo

ISSN: 0100-0683 (Print); 1806-9657 (Online)

Publisher: Sociedade Brasileira de Ciência do Solo

Society/Institution: Sociedade Brasileira de Ciência do Solo

LCC Subject Category: Agriculture: Agriculture (General)

Country of publisher: Brazil

Language of fulltext: English, Portuguese

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Philippe C. Baveye


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Time From Submission to Publication: 32 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

In recent years, many researchers have claimed that world reserves of rock phosphate were getting depleted at an alarming rate, putting us on the path to scarcity of that essential resource within the next few decades. Others have claimed that such alarmist forecasts were frequent in the past and have always been proven unfounded, making it likely that the same will be true in the future. Both viewpoints are directly relevant to the level of funding devoted to research on the use of phosphate fertilizers. In this short essay, it is argued that information about future reserves of P or any other resource are impossible to predict, and therefore that the threat of a possible depletion of P reserves should not be used as a key motivation for an intensification of research on soil P. However, there are other, more compelling reasons, both geopolitical and environmental, to urgently step up our collective efforts to devise agricultural practices that make better use of P than is the case at the moment.