Celebrating the 350th anniversary of phosphorus discovery: a conundrum of deficiency and excess

Sharpley, Andrew; Jarvie, Helen; Flaten, Don; Kleinman, Peter. 2018 Celebrating the 350th anniversary of phosphorus discovery: a conundrum of deficiency and excess. Journal of Environmental Quality, 47 (4). 774-777.

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2019 will be the 350th anniversary of the discovery of phosphorus (P) by the alchemist Henning Brandt. This perspective traces the historical threads that P has weaved through the fabric of our society and identifies challenges to improve P stewardship in the future and for our future. A century after Brandt’s discovery, P was identified in bone ash, which became the primary source of P until guano and ultimately rock P was mined to provide the various mineral formulations used today. Owing to limited supplies, a strategic shift in resource management ethics—from exploiting to conserving P resources—is needed. In agriculture, remedial strategies should consider when conservation practices can transition from P sinks to sources; however, a broader, long-term strategy for P stewardship is needed. This must include Reducing P loss in food and other wastes, Recovering P from waste streams, Reusing P generated beneficial by-products, and Restructuring production systems. A key action to enact such changes will be collaboration across all sectors of society and the supply chain, from field to fork and beyond. As this will likely increase the cost of food, fiber, and feed production, it will require an innovative mix of public and private initiatives.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Water Resources (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 0047-2425
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 30 Jul 2018 12:47 +0 (UTC)

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