Phosphorus is just as important to agriculture as water. The accessibility and sufficiency of phosphorus is essential to feed the global population.
Repeatedly growing the same crops drains the soil and does not put anything back. Unlike nitrogen, phosphorus needs to be replenished by either the breakdown of organic matter, such as crop stubble or animal manures, or from phosphorus fertilisers. Correctly managing phosphorus is an important step in bringing soil back to life and in achieving optimum crop production.
It is anticipated that demand for phosphates will increase from all three consumer groups. Competition between these consumer groups will also intensify continually. Phosphate-based products are extensively applied in the building materials industry, in the food industry, in the production of synthetic detergents, materials for water treatment. New phosphorous consumers will appear, for example lithium phosphate batteries are installed in state-of-the-art hybrid and electric cars.
However, the mineral fertiliser industry will remain the main phosphate consumer. And it is anticipated that demand in this sector will increase rapidly and sustainably.
Phosphorous and production of the foodstuffs
Global requirements in phosphate-based mineral fertilisers and feed phosphates increase sustainability, as:
1. The global population increases, accordingly, global demand for foodstuffs also increases.
2. Global per capita income is growing, which is causing structural changes in the food diet
The rapidly growing populations in developing countries in Asia and Latin America are consuming more and more protein — meat and poultry. Meanwhile, seven kilogrammes of grain are required to produce 1 kilogramme of beef.
3. Arable land per capita is declining, meaning available agricultural land has to be used more and more intensively
This trend in particular is most evident in developing countries with rapid population growth. Crop yields in developing countries are still relatively low, thereby stimulating higher demand growth rates for mineral fertilisers in these regions.
4. A significant portion of arable land, primarily in developing countries, is being allocated for the growth of agricultural crops that serve as raw materials for the production of biofuel.