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Margaret Mead
Research Article

Past, present, and future use of phosphorus in Chinese agriculture and its influence on phosphorus losses


Large inputs of phosphorus (P) in chemical fertilizers and feed supplements since 1978 have improved soil P status in arable land in China, but have also created challenges by increasing P concentrations in manure and exacerbating water quality degradation. Arable land in China can be divided into five management zones based on soil P chemistry, with 15–92 % of arable land having lower P status than the agronomic optimum and 0.3–7.2 % having severe risks of P leaching losses. A scenario analysis of soil P budget and agronomic P demand during 2011–2030 highlighted the great pressure China faces in sustainable P management and the need for drastic changes in current practices. This includes new policies to reduce P supplementation of feed and improved P use efficiency by livestock and programs to expand the adoption of appropriate fertilization, soil conservation, and drainage management practices to minimize P losses.