Over the past two decades, farmers have been increasingly successful in reducing phosphate fertilization, while crop yields remained the same or even improved. The effectiveness of phosphate-containing fertilizers has improved by 60 percent. In 2009, one quarter of phosphate from fertilizers remained behind in the soil, as against 55 percent in 1990.
Effective utilisation of phosphate on farming land
No smaller crops
Fertilizer legislation forces farmers to cut back on the use of fertilizers. The use of phosphate from manure and fertilizers was reduced by approximately 45 percent over the past two decades. This reduction hardly affected crop yields. In fact, arable farmers often produced larger crops. Green maize, sugar beets and wheat in particular absorb large amounts of phosphate from the soil.
Phosphate loss in the environment reduced
More effective utilisation of phosphate has reduced the amount of phosphate in the soil. This is not only important for the environment, but also because it is anticipated that in the long run, there will be a lack of raw materials required for the production of fertilizers.
Kees Olsthoorn and Norma Fong