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New book: "Sustainable Phosphorus Management"

Sustainable Phosphorus Management: A Global Transdisciplinary Roadmap (book cover)Phosphorus is one of the key nutrients necessary to human, animal and plant life. The finite resource must be used more effectively. Sustainable Phosphorus Management: A Global Transdisciplinary Roadmap provides up-to-date information on global phosphorus flows and identifies options to improve phosphorus efficiency and sustainability.

The publication is a product of the Global Transdisciplinary Processes for Sustainable Phosphorus Management (Global TraPs) project. The goal of Global TraPs is to identify the knowledge, technologies and policy options required to ensure that future phosphorus use is sustainable, improves food security and environmental quality and provides benefits to the poor.

  • Provides a comprehensive, supply-demand chain-based analysis of phosphorus flows, use, trade and finance, developed during a two-year transdisciplinary process
  • Describes options for improving phosphorus management in exploration, mining, dissipation and recycling
  • Identifies case studies and proposes a research agenda for critical questions of sustainable phosphorus management

This book describes a pathway for sustainable phosphorus management via the Global Transdisciplinary Processes for Sustainable Phosphorus Management project (Global TraPs). Global TraPs is a multi-stakeholder forum in which scientists from a variety of disciplines join with key actors in practice to jointly identify critical questions and to articulate what new knowledge, technologies and policy processes are needed to ensure that future phosphorus use is sustainable, improves food security and environmental quality and provides benefits for the poor. The book offers insight into economic scarcity and identifies options to improve efficiency and reduce environmental impacts of anthropogenic phosphorus flows at all stages of the supply-demand chain.

The opening chapter provides a comprehensive survey describing “what is wrong with the current anthropogenically driven phosphorus cycle, based on a material flow analysis”. Five chapters address such challenges of sustainable phosphorus as understanding the dynamics of reserves and elaborating when economic scarcity may become physical scarcity, the multiple costs of mining and the challenge of innovation in fertilizer products and production. Chapters on use and on dissipation and recycling establish that phosphorus has a dissipative structure and shows low use efficiency and high losses along the entire length of its value chain, and go on to identify constraints and options for closing the anthropogenic phosphorus loop. A concluding chapter on trade and finance discusses the causes of price volatility of phosphorus products.

Fifty key stakeholders from industry and scientists from different disciplines have contributed to this volume, writing full chapters and related spotlights on critical points. Their wide-ranging expertise helps to establish a transdisciplinary perspective as they identify the knowledge and the key stakeholders which must be included in a successful transition from current phosphorus management toward sustainability.

 Also see the webpage for Global TraPs at the IFDC website. 

"IFDC is a public international organization addressing critical issues such as international food security, the alleviation of global hunger and poverty, environmental protection and the promotion of economic development and self-sufficiency through the use of agricultural technologies including fertilizers and other inputs."

Editorial Notes: We have been following phosphorus since 2007, when we published one of the earliest articles that applied Hubbert's Curve to phosphorus: "Peak Phosphorus" by Patrick Déry and Bart Anderson ( Chapter 2 of this book mentions our article as part of the section on Hubbert Curve Modeling (page 13). Chapter 2 can be seen online as part of a sample of the book.

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