Farmers know that phosphorus is an irreplaceable macronutrient for plant growth. In excess, it’s also one of the most damaging pollutants of our waters. Farmers must make complex calculations and choose among diverse products and practices to maximize yields while protecting the watersheds on which their farms and communities depend from soil erosion and overland and subsurface phosphorus flows.
The Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance has adopted a set of sector goals to advance the cause of sustainable agriculture:
- Improve phosphorus use efficiency on farms. We support 4R nutrient stewardship and phosphorus-conserving precision ag techniques. Breeding programs and soil amendments can also play key roles in improving efficient phosphorus use.
- Implement more conservation practices on farm. We support regenerative and conservation agriculture where it reverses the deterioration and erosion of our soils.
- Recover and reuse more phosphorus from tile drains by using products such as biochar and nanomaterials.
- Reduce crop waste on farm. Reducing crop waste by such measures as improving farm storage for produce and better planning to match supply and demand improves farm profitability and wastes less phosphorus fertilizer.
- Expand participation in water quality trading platforms to help develop efficient markets for phosphorus recovery.
Through our Phosphorus Field-to-Watershed modeling group, the Alliance works with scientists and practitioners to identify on-farm phosphorus “hotspots”, or areas that can be better targeted for intervention, and to account better for the primary sources of phosphorus pollution. See some of the discussions from this modeling group here and an April 2019 update about its activities here. You can also watch a Phosphorus Forum talk about best management practices for phosphorus and a webinar on the climate impacts on farmland phosphorus flows.
The membership of the Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance invites organizations in the Crop Production Sector to participate in our activities to further the sector goals.