Fertiliser availability in a resource-limited world: Production and recycling of nitrogen and phosphorus
Without the input of fertiliser nitrogen it is estimated that only about half of the current global population can be supplied with sufficient food energy and protein. The anticipated increase in the population to 2050 will increase the dependency on fertiliser inputs. The paper examines the different potential sources of energy and hydrogen required for this essential fixation of atmospheric nitrogen into plant-available nitrogenous fertiliser and concludes that methane from natural gas is clearly the most suitable source. In the absence of a cost-effective alternative source of hydrogen it is recommended that an on-going requirement for methane is acknowledged and that consideration be given to strategic reserves for the production of food. Phosphorus is also an essential and unsubstitutable nutrient for plants and animals, but while the global reserves of atmospheric nitrogen are effectively unlimited, the reserves of phosphate rock are finite. Recent estimates of the reserve suggest that at the current rate of use this resource will become exhausted within some hundreds of years. The annual increment of phosphorus contained in the human population is estimated to be in the order of 1 Mt/yr, which is a small proportion of the quantity mined. There is a clear requirement to ensure that phosphorus is recycled to a large extent, so that the rate of exhaustion of the reserves of phosphate rock is significantly reduced. Legislation relating to the management of phosphorus appears entirely associated with its potential to upset natural ecosystems, with apparently no regulations yet requiring the efficient use and reuse of a scarce resource.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Christopher D. Elvidge & Daniel Ziskin & Kimberly E. Baugh & Benjamin T. Tuttle & Tilottama Ghosh & Dee W. Pack & Edward H. Erwin & Mikhail Zhizhin, 2009. "A Fifteen Year Record of Global Natural Gas Flaring Derived from Satellite Data," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 2(3), pages 595, August.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:36:y:2011:i:s1:p:s14-s22. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Shamier, Wendy)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.