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Phosphorus: a must for soil fertilization

An essential plant nutrient, like potassium and nitrogen, phosphorus is not readily available naturally because of its rather low concentration  in soil and poor  solubility. It is found in organic form in soil organic matter, and in inorganic form mainly in acidic soils.

Phosphorus supply promotes plant vigor at start-up and stimulates root system growth, which will then help  roots  to perform a quicker exploration the soil’s phosphorus reserves

Phosphorus plays an important role in plant development. Among other things, it contributes to the transport of energy into the cells. Phosphorus also stimulates flowering and fruiting. It also enables plants to better resist the effects of frost. Without it, agricultural production would not be possible. Plants absorb the phosphorus dissolved in the soil solution.

A limited resource and saturated soils though : a paradox

Mineral phosphorus is a finite resource. The exploitable phosphate rocks are concentrated in a few places: Morocco, China, South Africa and the United States.

At the same time, the accumulation of available phosphorus in the soil as a result of fertilizer application tends to saturate the soils in certain regions with high crop densities. The application of mineral phosphate fertilizers and the spreading of slurry and manure are often too high in relation to the absorption capacity of plants.  Residual phosphorus thus increases the soil phosphorus level, especially in the arable part. When conditions are favorable for soil erosion, the potential risk of dissolved or fixed phosphorus in the sediment being transported to watercourses increases, as does the risk of eutrophication of water bodies.

Implications for pig farmers

In areas with phosphorus-saturated soils, regulations limit the use of phosphorus fertilizers and the spreading of slurry and manure.On May 13, 2004, the Quebec government announced its orientations on the sustainable development of hog production by committing to “implement measures to ensure that production development does not exceed the capacity of the receiving environment, more particularly from a watershed-based integrated water management perspective.

In these phosphorus-saturated areas, the result is more complex manure management. Indeed, producers have to find more and more distant receivers, which increases transport costs, as well as operating costs in general.

An environmental oriented solution – Solugen, partner of the pig industry

Solugen, specialist in treatment of contaminated water and manure, provides a solution to this problem.  In the first step of the manure treatment we separate the solid fraction from the liquid fraction. This solid part contains about 30% dry matter and represents 10% of the initial volume of manure. It should be noted that 85% of the phosphorus initially contained in the manure is found in the solid fraction. We therefore have a large percentage of phosphorus in a limited volume, much easier to transport and, above all, less expensive. Phosphorus management and and its use are therefore optimized.

 

Sources

https://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/fr/ministeres/10/agriculture/content/terres_et_environnement/durabilite_environnement/phosphore.html

http://espace.inrs.ca/id/eprint/1362/

http://www.environnement.gouv.qc.ca/eau/bassinversant/capacite-phosphore.pdf

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