Global and regional phosphorus budgets in agricultural systems and their implications for phosphorus-use efficiency

Lun, F., Liu, J., Ciais, P., Nesme, T., Chang, J., Wang, R., Goll, D., Sardans, J., et al. (2018). Global and regional phosphorus budgets in agricultural systems and their implications for phosphorus-use efficiency. Earth System Science Data Discussions 10 (1) 1-18. 10.5194/essd-2017-41.

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Project: Effects of phosphorus limitations on Life, Earth system and Society (IMBALANCE-P, FP7 610028)


The application of phosphorus (P) fertilizer to agricultural soils increased by 3.2 % annually from 2002 to 2010. We quantified in detail the P inputs and outputs of cropland and pasture, and the P fluxes through human and livestock consumers of agricultural products, at global, regional, and national scales from 2002 to 2010. Globally, half of the total P input (21.3 Tg P yr−1) into agricultural systems accumulated in agricultural soils during this period, with the rest lost to bodies of water through complex flows. Global P accumulation in agricultural soil increased from 2002 to 2010, despite decreases in 2008 and 2009, and the P accumulation occurred primarily in cropland. Despite the global increase of soil P, 32 % of the world's cropland and 43 % of the pasture had soil P deficits. Increasing soil P deficits were found for African cropland, versus increasing P accumulation in Eastern Asia. European and North American pasture had a soil P deficit because continuous removal of biomass P by grazing exceeded P inputs. International trade played a significant role in P redistribution among countries through the flows of P in fertilizer and food among countries. Based on country-scale budgets and trends we propose policy options to potentially mitigate regional P imbalances in agricultural soils, particularly by optimizing the use of phosphate fertilizer and recycling of waste P. The trend of increasing consumption of livestock products will require more P inputs to the agricultural system, implying a low P-use efficiency aggravating the P stocks scarcity in the future. The global and regional phosphorus budgets and their PUEs in agricultural systems is publicly available at

Item Type: Article
Research Programs: Ecosystems Services and Management (ESM)
Depositing User: Romeo Molina
Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2017 07:59
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:29

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