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India – Running out of Phosphorus UPSC NOTE

 


Why in News

Recent news report states that India is running out of Phosphorus.


Phosphorus - Chemical Properties

  • Phosphorus cycles through both the abiotic and biotic parts of the Earth system.

  • Phosphorus is a non-metal that sits just below nitrogen in group 15 of the periodic table.

  • Phosphorus is found in the Earth's crust, primarily in sedimentary rocks that contain phosphate (PO43-) minerals.

  • Phosphorus is one of the major plant nutrients in the soil.

Natural Occurrence and Industrial Uses

  • The world’s largest reserves are in Morocco and the Western Sahara region.

  • Today, a handful of countries control most of the world’s reserves of phosphorus.

  •  phosphorus coexists with cadmium.

  • Cadmium is a toxic metal.

  • Removal of cadmium is expensive.

  • If we do not remove cadmium from the phosphorus, we may face a public health crisis; if we do, fertilizers will become more expensive.

  • Only six countries have substantial cadmium-free phosphorous reserves.


  • India is the world’s largest importer of phosphorus.


Challenges  with phosphorus use in agriculture

  • Cadmium free phosphorus are highly expensive and will directly affect the farmers.

  • If the farmers go without phosphorus added fertilizers, the yield will be very low.

  • Increases the risk of most phosphorus being lost via run-off, leaching or soil erosion, finally ending up in lakes, rivers and oceans .

  • This represents a financial loss and environmental damage.



Its scarcity, pollution, and potential solutions

  • Phosphorus is a limited resource.

  • Overuse of fertilizer has led to phosphorus shortages and water pollution.

  • At current consumption levels, we will run out of known phosphorus reserves in around 80 years.

  • Mining of Phosphorus require of more energy to reach those deposits.

  • Excess phosphorus feeds algae growth that makes waters less attractive for swimming and other aquatic recreation.

  • Excess phosphorus degrades the conditions that fish, bugs, wildlife, and desired plants need to thrive.


  • Phosphorus can fuel toxic blue-green algal blooms, which are harmful to people and pets.

  • The primary solution is, applying fertilizers in the proper amount.

  •  Applying of phosphorus in right time and right method will reduce the fertilizer reaches the water bodies.

  • Keeping animals and their waste out of streams keeps nitrogen and phosphorus out of the water and protects stream banks.

  • Phosphorus can fuel toxic blue-green algal blooms, which are harmful to people and pets.

  • The primary solution is, applying fertilizers in the proper amount.

  •  Applying of phosphorus in right time and right method will reduce the fertilizer reaches the water bodies.

  • Keeping animals and their waste out of streams keeps nitrogen and phosphorus out of the water and protects stream banks.

Precision Agriculture(PA)


  • Precision agriculture is a farming management strategy based on observing, measuring and responding to temporal and spatial variability.

  • This will improve agricultural production sustainability. 

  • It is used in both crop and livestock production.

  • PA is also sometimes referred to as precision farming, satellite agriculture, as-needed farming and site-specific crop management (SSCM).

  • The goal of precision agriculture is to increase efficiency and productivity, reduce input costs, and improve environmental sustainability.

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