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Food system resilience to phosphorus shortages on a telecoupled planet

Pietro Barbieri (), Graham K. MacDonald, Antoine Bernard de Raymond and Thomas Nesme
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Pietro Barbieri: University of Bordeaux, UMR 1391 ISPA
Graham K. MacDonald: McGill University
Antoine Bernard de Raymond: University of Bordeaux
Thomas Nesme: University of Bordeaux, UMR 1391 ISPA

Nature Sustainability, 2022, vol. 5, issue 2, 114-122

Abstract: Abstract Agricultural trade and globalization pose new challenges for resource management and governance. In particular, many countries are dependent on imports of non-renewable mineral phosphorus (P) fertilizers for their agriculture. We propose a framework to assess the possible impacts of future disruptions in P resource availability by comparing countries’ P fertilizer use for export production (virtual P) to their existing domestic P resources (labile soil P stocks and phosphate rock reserves). We find that up to 26% of global P fertilizer use is linked to exported crop and livestock commodities, creating complex resource interdependencies across countries. Vulnerabilities to P resource shortage may be moderated by existing domestic P resources in some countries, which could mitigate either short- or long-term impacts of fertilizer trade disruptions. However, greater coordination among trade partners that acknowledges and manages multiple forms of mineral P interdependencies is needed to provide resilient access to P inputs for national food supplies globally.

Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1038/s41893-021-00816-1

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