Friday, March 04, 2011

Conventional agriculture using up global supply of phosphorus, causing widespread pollution

Modern agriculture is heavily reliant on the use of phosphorus, a mineral necessary for proper plant and crop growth. But conventional growing methods have all but depleted this natural mineral from certain areas of farmland, which has resulted in the widespread mining of phosphorus to replace it. This mining and its subsequent overuse in agriculture has led not only to widespread pollution of water supplies, but it also threatens to use up the world's limited supply of phosphorus within the next several decades, say some. Writing in the journal Environmental Research Letters, Stephen Carpenter of the University of Wisconsin - Madison (UW-Madison) and his colleague Elena Bennett from McGill University say that agricultural and industrial use of phosphorus has the negative consequence of polluting rivers, streams, lakes, and other natural water sources. And because only a few areas around the world have natural reserves of phosphorus, supplies will eventually become depleted if current mining practices continue. Read more...

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