Knowledge for Development

Feature articles

Phosphorus depletion – should the ACP countries be concerned? What are the current issues for future research and policy?

P.O. Kisinyo et al., Chepkoilel University College, Kenya in their lead article, “Phosphorus depletion – should the ACP countries be concerned? What are the current issues for future research and policy?”, examine the extent of the problem and propose options for the ACP region. They note that phosphorus deficiency limits crop production in many acid soils of the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, mainly because of its fixation and the inherently low P levels in soils of these regions. In addition to using inorganic and organic sources for improving availability, they suggest that using crop germplasm that is tolerant to aluminium (Al) toxicity and is P-use efficient is important. However, the contradictory information on how long the existing phosphorus rock (PR) deposits will last makes it difficult to plan for its long-term utilization. Given the current state of knowledge on location of PR, the authors highlight the need for more information on the extent of and location of resources.


Phosphorus depletion: an invisible crisis?

A lead article by Bert Smit, Plant Research Institute, Wageningen University and Research Centre, “Phosphorus depletion: an invisible crisis?” considers the evidence on the current status of depletion. Smit notes that the return flow of phosphorus from society to agriculture is decreasing and that the use and governance of the remaining reserves is far from sustainable. He highlights the scarcity of P management and the economic, institutional and geopolitical scarcity and expresses a hope that the world will realize some fundamental changes and reverse the downward trends before a physical scarcity of P becomes apparent. Smit suggests that future research must monitor baseline data for global PR reserves and trade, include a country-level analysis of P inputs and outputs to identify the most effective measures and policies, (agricultural) valorisation and reuse of societal waste products and plant breeding for rooting characteristics that would lead to a better use of the available P in the soil profile.


Phosphate: A critical resource misused and now running low

This report by Fred Pearce for the Yale Environment 360 online journal details the state of global phosphates rock reserves and the initiatives (and the lack thereof) to promote the smart and efficient use of this non-renewable resource used a fertilizer and palliate pollution and eutrophication in agricultural environments. Loaded with the latest data and policy debate on the subject, this report offers a thorough overview of where the world stands in regard to phosphate.


Producers and extension agents trained on fertiliser micro-dosing mechanisation in Mali

Fertiliser micro-dosing mechanisation is being developed and promoted by ICRISAT, the Institut d’Économie Rurale (IER), and partners in Western Africa. A disk and a planter that simultaneously sows a mixture of seeds and fertiliser have convinced trainees; it is expected to gain rapid adoption to replace time-consuming manual application.(ICRISAT, 07/06/2013)