Phosphorus: a non-renewable resource that explains new generations – fertilizers

The Phosphorus it is an essential element for every life form and for plants it is one of macronutrients most importantly. It exists in agriculture in the form of Manure and is extracted from phosphate Rock Minen. These are established in some countries of the world as well Morocco In the North Africa, China, united states In the Russia.

Phosphorus is one non-renewable resource and the reserves in these mines are running out. The maximum extraction peak it was estimated around 2033.

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The problem of phosphorus extraction

Although there is a continuous demand for phosphorus in agriculture, the cultivated land is too rich in it so much so that this arises Pollution phenomena (Eutrophication) resp Extinguisher for erosive phenomena and soil tillage practices.

If phosphorus is a non-renewable resource, how can its sustainability be guaranteed in the near future? At this point, it becomes crucial learn to manage for the best the resources of the planet in the process of development, for example, circular economy. They can be used to solve the problem of phosphorus extraction secondary source for the production of manure obtained from Recovery and of Recycling Nutrients: waste water, sewage treatment plant, manure, animal carcasses, food waste, etc.

This is the theme of the conference organized on May 4 zu Macfrut 2022. The seminar with a name “The Global Challenge of Phosphorus in Agriculture” was held by Ornella Francioso of the Department of Agri-Food Sciences and Technologies of theBologna University, Alberto Zanelli In the Armida Torreggiani by the National Research Council (Cnr) Institute of Organic Synthesis and Photoreactivity (Isof) of Bologna.

The main protagonist of the seminar was the project Rm @ Schools 4.0funded by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (One)which counts a Awareness campaign for the Recovery of critical raw materials among which, in fact, phosphorus. This is all about making science education attractive to young students to encourage them to be responsible citizens who are capable of taking innovative actions for sustainable development.

As part of the project, there was an activity in collaboration with the Fermi Scientific High School of Bologna on the recovery of phosphorus and its use in agriculture. Hence an idea to incorporate the same activity in the natural sciences and the civic education of the schools.

Educate and train the new generations

To guarantee a more sustainable future, it is necessary to provide through education new skills: prepare the next generation to meet the major ecological, economic and social challenges. For this reason, the European Community has invested and continues to invest in a range of projects in all schools, to train on the sustainable use of raw materials and to prevent their exploitation.

As part of the Rm @ Schools 4.0 project, 24 students from the Class 4C by Liceo Fermi of Bologna, aged between 17 and 18, who, in collaboration with Cnr at the University of Bologna, presented all the activities related to the problem of phosphorus extraction and its recovery and recycling.

In particular, they played Laboratory Experiments that they predicted the Recovery of struvite from synthetic urine and then proved its fertilizing activity hydroponic cultivation. Struvit is a mineral consisting of magnesium, ammonium and phosphate, which is obtained from wastewater by precipitation and crystallization of phosphorus. It is one of the most promising and environmentally friendly processes that generate a substance that can be used as a slow release fertilizer.

Among the various activities, the students of Liceo Fermi focused on developing one Survey which she then presents to the high school community, including all students, parents and teachers. A completely anonymous questionnaire that was intended to examine the average level of knowledge and awareness about the phosphorus problem. Young people and adults have had to answer various questions, for example: “How is phosphorus extracted?”, “What is it for?”, “Where is it imported into Europe?”.

DEN Survey Results illuminates that you82% of the respondents do not consider phosphorus as an exhaustive resource. Overall, most people were unaware of the subject or not at all.

Let us not despair, however, that such projects should be repeated in order to increase the knowledge that is lacking and to promote scientific dissemination actions on sustainable development issues in schools and in society.

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