Phosphor – so wichtig wie Luft, so knapp wie Erdoel? (in German)
Phosphorus - as important as air, just as scarce as oil?
The element phosphorus is an irreplaceable energy source for the living cell and a vital component of the genetic substance. Phosphorus is limited as a mineral source, however for now and at least in the foreseeable future, supply shortages are not to be expected.
The time range of the currently known commercially exploitable deposits is estimated at 115 years. 90% of the crude phosphate are being used for fertilizer production. The usage of mineral phosphorus-containing fertilizer varies significantly from one country to the next.
Several African countries and China are among the main exporters of phosphorus. The market price of phosphorus depends on numerous factors, the most important of which are export tariffs (China), transportation costs (various oil price factors), speculations in the commodities markets as well as the general state of the economy.
The usage of mineral phosphorous fertilizers is changing constantly and significantly. Countries such as Germany and Japan have managed through soil enrichment to have huge excess of phosphorus in their soils. The soil in most central European countries doesn't react anymore to fertilization with phosphorus (no crop increase). The usage of phosphorus in these countries has receded significantly.
In spite of this considerable decline (of about 95%,) there is still, even in these countries, a clear excessive phosphorus footprint due to its presence in animal feed, food products and sewage sludge discharge. Other countries, especially in Africa, had until now very little possibility to get any noteworthy quantities of mineral phosphorus due to cost factors, and typically suffer from undernourished soils (deficit of phosphorus, humus and other nutrients).
Consultancy report for GTZ, Germany
phosphorus; workshop report
This is a working paper as a basis for a workshop.
Report in German, with English summary on behalf of GTZ Ecosan Programm.
Lange, J. (2009). Phosphor – so wichtig wie Luft, so knapp wie Erdoel? (in German) - Phosphorus - as important as air, just as scarce as oil?. Consultancy report for GTZ, Germany.