The world is running out of phosphorus, which threatens global food supply

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/03/12/the-world-is-running-out-of-ph.html

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Miners get $12 bucks a day to dig phosphorus out of active volcanoes, maybe we should up the pay on that, maybe…

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Wasn’t phosphorus first “discovered” by trying to turn urine into gold? Should we start collecting our urine for the same purpose? If so, finally, another hobby that others may soon come to appreciate!

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You mean you don’t already?

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Only if you want golden showers. Sorry… somebody had to say it.

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Time to invade Morocco. They got wut we need!

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If you aren’t you’re literally flushing money down the toilet.

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44%20AM

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Perhaps we could start by restricting its use in places where poor application practices are already causing problems, like the Western basin of Lake Erie and along the Mississippi.

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I believe the NPR story covered exactly this. They talked about a community that is selling their urine to local farmers to be used as fertilizer.

Edit: https://www.npr.org/2018/02/01/582338635/could-harvesting-urine-ease-demand-for-phosphorus

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Time to start collecting it from our urine. The phosphorous didn’t disappear, it just moved. For real though, what stock do I buy/short here.

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Yup, and wood ash.

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Compost, bat guano, bone meal, and chicken and pig manure are all excellent, renewable, and natural phosphorus sources.
It seems what is at risk here is to artificial fertilizers tied to industrial farming which we have known isn’t sustainable anyway. Heck, if the farmers would compost 100% their farming waste that would be plenty to keep any field in good supply of phosphorus.

edit to add: crushed granite at 8.5 lbs per 100 sq ft will supply all the P a crop needs for between 5 and 10 years which beats the heck out of soft and hard rock phosphates.

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You mean that we should liberate Western Sahara that has been occupied by Morocco for far too long?

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And they have awesome trilobites and other fossils! Liberate the trilobites!

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Ninja’d. I was going to say dredge lake Erie and problem solved.

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Or they could update the water treatment plants to a modern design which reclaims minerals like phosphorus

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The world isn’t running out of phosphorus at all. It’s just running out of phosphorus that’s easy for humans to acquire due to humans lazily not keeping track of the phosphorus they’re using.

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" Agriculture requires lots of phosphorus for fertilizer, and after it’s spread on crops, most of it gets washed into the ocean…"

Citation required since the literature on the subject says that only around 16% of applied phosphorus is lost to the environment. 16% is certainly not ‘most’.

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