Thursday, August 15, 2013

Phosphorus

Phosphorus is an essential macro-nutrient for plants and all life on earth. Phosphorus is a component of nucleic acids, ATP and the phospholipid bi-layer that encloses cells.

Phosphorus is a scarce finite resource on planet earth. It is extracted from phosphate rock almost entirely for agriculture use around the world. There are organic and synthetic processes of phosphate extraction in mineral mining.

When is the earth-destructive process of mineral extraction qualified as organic? This has to do with chemicals used in the chelation process of making absorbable phosphate fertilizers from rock. Synthetic chelates like EDTA or DTPA used to strip phosphates from rock appear in trace amounts in non-organic produce grown with synthetic fertilizers. Organic chelates are humic or fulvic acids derived from the natural decomposition of organic material. The phosphates recovered by humic acids are identical to those found in nature.

Optimistic scientists say we have more than 100 years before the end of agriculture (and strike-matches technology). Recycling phosphorus by using manure or animal bones as a source for phosphorus fertilizer on local farms is the approach used by permaculturists. Phosphorus conservation for urbanites and suburbanites can be achieved with hydroponics.

Phosphoric acid is often used in hydroponics to bring the pH of a nutrient solution down.
Plant Nutrition Facts
Phosphorus (P)
Absorbable Forms H2PO4- and HPO42-
Fertilizers Phosphoric acids, super-phosphate, ammonium phosphate, phosphogypsum, apatite, animal waste, bone meal, algae
Symptoms of Deficiency Plant is dark green with purple veins and stunted; burned leaf tips
Action
Necessary in the synthesis of ATP, phospholipids in cell walls and nucleic acids. Promotes growth of roots and shoots.
Plant Nutrition
Phosphorus is necessary during all stages of plant growth. Plants need more phosphorus during periods of advanced expression: blooming and fruiting.
Origin
Synthetic: Extracted from phosphate rock using synthetic chelates that appear in trace amounts in non-organic produce.

Organic: (1)Extracted from phosphate rock using organic chelates like humic acids. Identical to phosphates naturally occuring in soil. (2)Recovered from bone meal, guanos, urine or algae.
Adverse Effects
Mineral sources of phosphorous may contain trace amounts of toxic heavy metals like cadmium, flouride, uranium, radium or polonium. Synthetic phosphates contain trace amounts of synthetic chelates. Phosphate fertilizers leaching into aquatic environments promote algae blooms that kill fish. Flourine, as a component of super-phosphates, contributes to soil sterilization.
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