Is "Peak Fertilizer" Nearer Than We Think? New Report Fuels Concern

peak phosphorous report soil association image

Image credit: Soil Association

Earlier this week John was musing about how "peak fertilizer" could make manure a valuable commodity once more, and if Gene Logsdon's guide to managing manure is to be believed, some mega-farmers are getting back into livestock precisely because it gives them access to poop. Now a new report adds fuel to this fire—suggesting that peak phosphorous, and the threat to our food systems that it represents, could be with us much sooner than previously thought. Released by UK organic farming group the Soil Association, the new freely downloadable report, entitled A Rock and a Hard Place: Peak phosphorous and the threat to our food security, is likely to make uncomfortable but important reading for farmers—and indeed anyone who likes to eat.

As Lloyd noted before in his post on whether we are approaching peak phosphorous, phosphate rock is mined at astounding rates—and easily accessible sources are becoming harder and harder to come by. In fact, says the Soil Assocation's report, "we may hit 'peak' phosphate as early as 2033, after which supplies will become increasingly scarce and more expensive."

As for what can be done about it, the report notes that recycling human urine, encouraging organic farming and the use of animal manures and food composting, and finding ways to reduce demand for meat are all possible ways we can both help prolong supplies of phosphate-based fertilizers, and simultaneously begin the adaptation process toward a world without them.

See April's post on pee power and urine recycling, Warren's missive on P standing for phosphorous and human waste, and my own musings on making homemade bone meal (yeah, I had too much time on my hands...) for more thoughts on what to do about this pressing problem.

More on Peak Phosphate and What to Do About It
Peak Fertilizer to Make Manure a Valuable Commodity
Are We Near Peak Phosphorous?
Finally... A Practical Guide to Dealing with Manure (Book Review)
Is Male Pee Better than Female Pee? The Compost Conundrum
Pee Power: Recycling Urine into Fertilizer
P is for Phosphate (and Human Waste)
Homemade Bone Meal: A Partial Solution to Peak Phosphate

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