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International Effort Mapping Global Phosphorus Flow

Stevens Institute of Technology is spearheading an international project to map the global flow of phosphorus, as the first step in an effort to recapture and recycle this valuable nutrient whose supply from rock is limited. The map, published in Earth’s Future, locates regions where there is both a significant demand for fertilizer and potential for recapturing the nutrient from animal and human waste. The map reveals potential for phosphorus recapture for 72% of croplands that have manure production nearby and for 68% of croplands with significant human populations nearby. “Ideally, the 45 million metric tons of phosphorus fertilizers used each year would be completely reused, and we’d harvest their maximum potential to support food production,” said Stevens’ David Vaccari. “This work is a step toward understanding how to get to that point.”