Changes in phosphorus use and losses in the food chain of China during 1950–2010 and forecasts for 2030

Zhaohai Bai, Lin Ma*, Wenqi Ma, Wei Qin, G.L. Velthof, Oene Oenema, Fusuo Zhang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

China has become the largest mineral phosphorus (P) fertilizer consumer in the world, but current use is not sustainable. Here, we report on a quantitative analysis of the P use and losses in the food production–consumption chain and of their relationships with socio-economic indicators for the years 1950–2010. Pathways to a more sustainable P use in 2030 were explored through scenario analyses, using the Nutrient flows in Food chains, Environment and Resource use model. Non-linear relationships were observed between changes in P use and changes in gross domestic production (GDP), suggesting a decoupling of P use from the main economic driver. More or less linear relationships were observed between changes in P use and changes in the percentages of vegetable and fruit and animal derived food in human diets. Total P losses increased from 0.2 Tg in 1950 to 3.1 Tg in 2010, while P use efficiency in the food chain decreased from 35 % in 1950 to 6 % in 2010. Our estimates suggest that 79 Tg P has accumulated in agricultural soils, 16 Tg P accumulated in landfill, and 48 Tg P has leached or has been discharged to water bodies during the past 60 years. Most of the accumulation and discharges took place in the last 10 years. We analyzed five options for increasing P use efficiency in the food chain by 2030, i.e., balanced P fertilization in crop production, precision animal P feeding, improved manure management, diet changes, and the integration of these four options. The integral adoption of these four options will increase P use efficiency in the food chain from 6 % in 2010 to 26 % in 2030. Total mineral P fertilizer use will decrease by 69 % and P losses by 68 % relative to the business as usual scenario. In conclusion, current P fertilizer use and losses are coupled to dietary choices, but have become decoupled from GDP. Further decoupling may occur when P use is defined by science-based P requirements for crops, animals and humans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-372
JournalNutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems
Volume104
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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food chain
phosphorus
China
fertilizer
fertilizers
animal
diet
minerals
economic indicators
animal manure management
animals
landfills
mineral
agricultural soils
resource use
agricultural soil
crop production
food choices
quantitative analysis
vegetable

Keywords

  • Animal
  • Crop
  • Fertilizer
  • Losses
  • Scenario analysis
  • Socio-economic

Cite this

@article{05255f905345472180c946fc3df31682,
title = "Changes in phosphorus use and losses in the food chain of China during 1950–2010 and forecasts for 2030",
abstract = "China has become the largest mineral phosphorus (P) fertilizer consumer in the world, but current use is not sustainable. Here, we report on a quantitative analysis of the P use and losses in the food production–consumption chain and of their relationships with socio-economic indicators for the years 1950–2010. Pathways to a more sustainable P use in 2030 were explored through scenario analyses, using the Nutrient flows in Food chains, Environment and Resource use model. Non-linear relationships were observed between changes in P use and changes in gross domestic production (GDP), suggesting a decoupling of P use from the main economic driver. More or less linear relationships were observed between changes in P use and changes in the percentages of vegetable and fruit and animal derived food in human diets. Total P losses increased from 0.2 Tg in 1950 to 3.1 Tg in 2010, while P use efficiency in the food chain decreased from 35 {\%} in 1950 to 6 {\%} in 2010. Our estimates suggest that 79 Tg P has accumulated in agricultural soils, 16 Tg P accumulated in landfill, and 48 Tg P has leached or has been discharged to water bodies during the past 60 years. Most of the accumulation and discharges took place in the last 10 years. We analyzed five options for increasing P use efficiency in the food chain by 2030, i.e., balanced P fertilization in crop production, precision animal P feeding, improved manure management, diet changes, and the integration of these four options. The integral adoption of these four options will increase P use efficiency in the food chain from 6 {\%} in 2010 to 26 {\%} in 2030. Total mineral P fertilizer use will decrease by 69 {\%} and P losses by 68 {\%} relative to the business as usual scenario. In conclusion, current P fertilizer use and losses are coupled to dietary choices, but have become decoupled from GDP. Further decoupling may occur when P use is defined by science-based P requirements for crops, animals and humans.",
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author = "Zhaohai Bai and Lin Ma and Wenqi Ma and Wei Qin and G.L. Velthof and Oene Oenema and Fusuo Zhang",
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Changes in phosphorus use and losses in the food chain of China during 1950–2010 and forecasts for 2030. / Bai, Zhaohai; Ma, Lin; Ma, Wenqi; Qin, Wei; Velthof, G.L.; Oenema, Oene; Zhang, Fusuo.

In: Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems, Vol. 104, No. 3, 2016, p. 361-372.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Changes in phosphorus use and losses in the food chain of China during 1950–2010 and forecasts for 2030

AU - Bai, Zhaohai

AU - Ma, Lin

AU - Ma, Wenqi

AU - Qin, Wei

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AU - Oenema, Oene

AU - Zhang, Fusuo

PY - 2016

Y1 - 2016

N2 - China has become the largest mineral phosphorus (P) fertilizer consumer in the world, but current use is not sustainable. Here, we report on a quantitative analysis of the P use and losses in the food production–consumption chain and of their relationships with socio-economic indicators for the years 1950–2010. Pathways to a more sustainable P use in 2030 were explored through scenario analyses, using the Nutrient flows in Food chains, Environment and Resource use model. Non-linear relationships were observed between changes in P use and changes in gross domestic production (GDP), suggesting a decoupling of P use from the main economic driver. More or less linear relationships were observed between changes in P use and changes in the percentages of vegetable and fruit and animal derived food in human diets. Total P losses increased from 0.2 Tg in 1950 to 3.1 Tg in 2010, while P use efficiency in the food chain decreased from 35 % in 1950 to 6 % in 2010. Our estimates suggest that 79 Tg P has accumulated in agricultural soils, 16 Tg P accumulated in landfill, and 48 Tg P has leached or has been discharged to water bodies during the past 60 years. Most of the accumulation and discharges took place in the last 10 years. We analyzed five options for increasing P use efficiency in the food chain by 2030, i.e., balanced P fertilization in crop production, precision animal P feeding, improved manure management, diet changes, and the integration of these four options. The integral adoption of these four options will increase P use efficiency in the food chain from 6 % in 2010 to 26 % in 2030. Total mineral P fertilizer use will decrease by 69 % and P losses by 68 % relative to the business as usual scenario. In conclusion, current P fertilizer use and losses are coupled to dietary choices, but have become decoupled from GDP. Further decoupling may occur when P use is defined by science-based P requirements for crops, animals and humans.

AB - China has become the largest mineral phosphorus (P) fertilizer consumer in the world, but current use is not sustainable. Here, we report on a quantitative analysis of the P use and losses in the food production–consumption chain and of their relationships with socio-economic indicators for the years 1950–2010. Pathways to a more sustainable P use in 2030 were explored through scenario analyses, using the Nutrient flows in Food chains, Environment and Resource use model. Non-linear relationships were observed between changes in P use and changes in gross domestic production (GDP), suggesting a decoupling of P use from the main economic driver. More or less linear relationships were observed between changes in P use and changes in the percentages of vegetable and fruit and animal derived food in human diets. Total P losses increased from 0.2 Tg in 1950 to 3.1 Tg in 2010, while P use efficiency in the food chain decreased from 35 % in 1950 to 6 % in 2010. Our estimates suggest that 79 Tg P has accumulated in agricultural soils, 16 Tg P accumulated in landfill, and 48 Tg P has leached or has been discharged to water bodies during the past 60 years. Most of the accumulation and discharges took place in the last 10 years. We analyzed five options for increasing P use efficiency in the food chain by 2030, i.e., balanced P fertilization in crop production, precision animal P feeding, improved manure management, diet changes, and the integration of these four options. The integral adoption of these four options will increase P use efficiency in the food chain from 6 % in 2010 to 26 % in 2030. Total mineral P fertilizer use will decrease by 69 % and P losses by 68 % relative to the business as usual scenario. In conclusion, current P fertilizer use and losses are coupled to dietary choices, but have become decoupled from GDP. Further decoupling may occur when P use is defined by science-based P requirements for crops, animals and humans.

KW - Animal

KW - Crop

KW - Fertilizer

KW - Losses

KW - Scenario analysis

KW - Socio-economic

U2 - 10.1007/s10705-015-9737-y

DO - 10.1007/s10705-015-9737-y

M3 - Article

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SP - 361

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JO - Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

JF - Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

SN - 1385-1314

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ER -