Dear Master Gardeners,
Some MGs might find interesting an article that I've just co-written on "Peak Phosphorus" and what it means for agriculture.
Also at The Oil Drum (which has 102 comments)
Background reading (may be easier to start with):
As we know from our MG training, phosphorus is one of the three macro-nutrients required by plants. Farmers (both organic and non-organic) use the phosphorus from rock phosphates as fertilizer to replenish the amount used up by crops.
The main points of the article are widely accepted:
What is new and controversial in the article is the assertion that we have passed the point of "Peak phosphorus" - the point of maximum production and consumption of phosphorus. This would mean that over time phosphorus will become more difficult to obtain, and more expensive. This would be a major problem for society, since without sufficient supplies of phosphorus we will have difficulty feeding ourselves.
My co-author Patrick Déry came to the conclusion that we have passed peak phosphorus by running statistical analyses on data from the US Geological Survey (estimates of phosphate reserves and production). The specific dates for peak phosphorus are what are controversial. The fact that we will run out of phospate deposits is not in dispute. At some point, we will inevitably face a phosphorus problem.
Bottom line for Master Gardeners: