The Influence of Agricultural Trade and Livestock Production on the Global Phosphorus Cycle
- 1.2k Downloads
Trends of increasing agricultural trade, increased concentration of livestock production systems, and increased human consumption of livestock products influence the distribution of nutrients across the global landscape. Phosphorus (P) represents a unique management challenge as we are rapidly depleting mineable reserves of this essential and non-renewable resource. At the same time, its overuse can lead to pollution of aquatic ecosystems. We analyzed the relative contributions of food crop, feed crop, and livestock product trade to P flows through agricultural soils for 12 countries from 1961 to 2007. Due to the intensification of agricultural production, average soil surface P balances more than tripled from 6 to 21 kg P ha−1 between 1961 and 2007 for the 12 study countries. Consequently, countries that are primarily agricultural exporters carried increased risks for water pollution or, for Argentina, reduced soil fertility due to soil P mining to support exports. In 2007, nations imported food and feed from regions with higher apparent P fertilizer use efficiencies than if those crops were produced domestically. However, this was largely because imports were sourced from regions depleting soil P resources to support export crop production. In addition, the pattern of regional specialization and intensification of production systems also reduced the potential to recycle P resources, with greater implications for livestock production than crop production. In a globalizing world, it will be increasingly important to integrate biophysical constraints of our natural resources and environmental impacts of agricultural systems into trade policy and agreements and to develop mechanisms that move us closer to more equitable management of non-renewable resources such as phosphorus.
Keywordsglobalization nutrient balance eutrophication peak phosphorus biogeochemistry agricultural trade
We thank Tim Crews and Graham MacDonald for useful comments and discussions. This work was supported by a Macdonald Sustainable Agriculture Postdoctoral Fellowship to MES and NSERC grants to EMB.
- Beaton JD, Roberts TL, Halstead EH, Cowell LE. 1995. Global transfers of P in fertilizer materials and agricultural commodities. In: Tiessen H, Ed. Phosphorus in the global environment: transfers, cycles and management SCOPE 54. Chichester: Wiley. Google Scholar
- Chapagain AK, Hoekstra AY. 2004. Water footprints of nations, value of water research Report Series No. 16. UNESCO-IHE, Delft, The Netherlands.Google Scholar
- FAO. 2007. FERTISTAT—fertilizer use by crop statistics database. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization.Google Scholar
- FAO. 2008a. FAOSTAT database collections. Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome. http://faostat.fao.org.
- FAO. 2008b. FAOSTAT database collections: supply utilization accounts. Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome. http://faostat.fao.org/site/354/default.aspx.
- FAO. 2008c. FAOSTAT database collections: TradeSTAT Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome. http://faostat.fao.org/site/537/default.aspx.
- Filippelli GM. 2002. The global phosphorus cycle. In: Kohn MJ, Rakovan J, Hughes JM, Eds. Phosphates: Geochemical, Geobiological and Materials Importance. Washington, DC: Geochemical Society. p 391–425.Google Scholar
- Hansen NC, Daniel TC, Sharpley AN, Lemunyon JL. 2002. The fate and transport of phosphorus in agricultural systems. J Soil Water Conserv 57:408–17.Google Scholar
- Harris, D., Moore, M., Schmitz, H. 2009. Country classifications for a changing world. IDS Working Papers 2009: 01-48.Google Scholar
- Kellogg RL, Lander CH, Moffitt DC, Gollehon N. 2000. Manure nutrients relative to the capacity of cropland and pastureland to assimilate nutrients: spatial and temporal trends for the United States. In: al., K.e. (Ed.). USDA, GSA National Forms and Publication Center, Fort Worth, TX.Google Scholar
- Menzi H, Oenema O, Burton C, Shipin O, Gerber P, Robinson T, Franceschini G. 2010. Impacts of intensive livestock production and manure management on the environment. In: Steinfeld H, Mooney H, Schneider F, Neville LE, Eds. Livestock in a changing landscape, Vol. 1. Washington, DC: Island Press. Google Scholar
- OECD. 2008. Environmental Performance of Agriculture in OECD countries since 1990: 2. Nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus balances). Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.Google Scholar
- Roosevelt FD. 1938. Message to congress on phosphates for soil fertility. In: Woolley JT, Peters G, Eds. The American Presidency Project [online]. Santa Barbara, CA. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=15643. Accessed April 20, 2011.
- Sanchez PA. 1976. Properties and management of soils in the tropics. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Sharpley AN, Herron S, Daniel T. 2007. Overcoming the challenges of phosphorus-based management in poultry farming. J Soil Water Conserv 62:375–89.Google Scholar
- Steinfeid H, Mooney HA, Schneider F, Neville LE, Eds. 2010. Livestock in a changing landscape. Washington, DC: Island Press. p 416.Google Scholar
- Syers JK, Johnston AE, Curtin D. 2008. Efficiency of soil and fertilizer phosphorus use: reconciling changing concepts of soil phosphorus behaviour with agronomic information. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.Google Scholar
- UNEP. 2011. UNEP year book: emerging issues in our global environment. Nairobi: UN Environment Programme.Google Scholar
- USDA. 2009. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 22. USDA, Agricultural Research Service.Google Scholar
- USDA. 2010. Nutrient Content Database. USDA, Natural Resource Conservation Service.Google Scholar
- Van Kauwenbergh S. 2010. World phosphate reserves and resources. Washington, DC: International Fertilizer Development Centre (IFDC). IFDC-T-75Google Scholar
- Vitousek PM, Aber JD, Howarth RW, Likens GE, Matson PA, Schindler DW, Schlesinger WH, Tilman DG. 1997. Human alteration of the global nitrogen cycle: sources and consequences. Ecol Appl 7:737–50.Google Scholar
- Wolf M. 2004. Why globalization works. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar