The increased need for food due to human population increases has forced crops, and their associated nutrients, off the farm. They have been exported for consumption, instead of remaining for fertilizing future seasons. The response to this phosphorus depletion was to acquire key nutrients from other sources and bring them, along with other components of fertilizer, back to the farm. This new system relies on phosphate rock for its phosphate, and as global need raises the demand, processing limitations are restricting the supply.
In addition to phosphate rock being difficult to process, it also has an ecological cost in its consumption. There are several strategies presented to increase the efficiency of phosphorus use in agricultural. Utilizing soil fungi in symbiotic relationships with roots is one solution posed, as well as a recycling system designed to recover phosphorus in water treatment facilities. The recycling system has the potential to not only increase phosphorus efficiency, but also limit the environmental impact of leaching phosphorus in our water systems.