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R451 Phosphorus Use (LINK)

Publication Date: 
28 October 2011
Author/Contact :
Roger Sylvester-Bradley

Contractor :

Full Research Project Title: Improving the sustainability of phosphorus use in arable farming
Duration: August 2010 - July 2015

Aim: To develop profitable and sustainable farming systems that maximise the efficiency of utilisation of soil and applied phosphorus by arable crops and minimise negative impacts on the wider environment.

Industry Challenge

Current systems of production rely on inputs of highly water-soluble fertilisers to maintain large reserves of background P in the soil. Recovery of applied P by crops is consequently low (<30%) and this inefficiency is not only wasteful of resources but also increases the risk of eutrophication through increased P loss in runoff from land.


ADAS, Agrivert Ltd, Bangor University, Carrs Fertilisers, Michael Payne Environmental Consultants, Omex Agriculture, SAC, Severn Trent Water, Speciality Fertiliser Products, Virotec Europe Ltd


The project will address two key hypotheses:

a) Modification of fertiliser P-release patterns, better targeting of P inputs to meet crop P demand and more selective crop/soil management will improve the utilisation efficiency of soil and applied P by arable crops, allowing them to be grown on soils of lower P fertility without sacrificing farm profitability.

b) The adoption of novel soil and fertiliser management strategies on soils lower in P will reduce emissions in land runoff of P from applied fertilisers and soil stocks and lessen the wider negative environmental impacts of arable farming.

This is project LK09136 in DEFRA’s Sustainable Arable LINK programme.


Research Review: Routes to improving the efficiency of phosphorus use in arable crop production

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