Key role of China and its agriculture in global sustainable phosphorus management

S.Z. Sattari, M.K. van Ittersum, K.E. Giller, F. Zhang, A.F. Bouwman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Growing global demand for food leads to increased pressure on phosphorus (P), a finite and dwindling resource. China is the largest producer and consumer of P fertilizer in the world. A mass balance analysis of historical P use on China's arable land shows that P input substantially exceeds crop P uptake leading to the accumulation of residual soil P. A Dynamic P Pool Simulator (DPPS) model is applied to estimate future P demand in China's arable land. Our simulations show that more sustainable use of P accounting for the residual P can save ca. 20% of the P fertilizer needed until 2050 in China relative to the Rio + 20 Trend scenario. This saving would be equivalent to half of the P required in Africa or sufficient for Western Europe to achieve target crop P uptake in 2050.
Original languageEnglish
Article number054003
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • environmental impacts
  • soil-phosphorus
  • crop yield
  • food-chain
  • fertilizer
  • nitrogen
  • perspective
  • scarcity
  • balances
  • industry

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