A Lake of Opportunity: Rethinking Phosphorus Pollution and Resource Availability


Since the Second World War, inorganic phosphorus fertilizers have become an increasingly crucial building block in our modern agricultural systems, which have both achieved vital growth rates in global food production and spurred population growth. Since 2007, however, discussions surrounding the potential decline of the global supply of easily accessible, high-quality phosphate rock for fertilizer production continue to emerge. The term “peak phosphorus” has been applied to the potential scarcity of rock phosphate in the twenty-first century. This article outlines the “global P problem sphere” before moving to insights obtained from a Canadian case study that examines the opportunities of applying a paradigmatic focal shift to phosphorus understanding—“from noxious to precious”— as assessed and evaluated through the direct participation of local stakeholders.

DOI: doi.org/10.5282/rcc/5620