Clouds Countryside with Crops

Sustainable Phosphorus Forum Tackles How to Feed a Future World of 10 Billion While Protecting Water Resources

Clouds Countryside with Crops


Our relationship with the essential element phosphorus is both personal and global.

“We each carry about three pounds of phosphorus in our bodies and in our bones, and yet, we are fully dependent upon it to feed a future world of 10 billion people by 2050,” said Professor Jim Elser.

Phosphorus is a nutrient crucial to growing crops, but it washes off farmland in the rain and travels to our waterways, where it can cause major pollution issues.

Elser, a long-time Arizona State University professor now at Montana State, initiated the Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance a decade ago. The Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance is a unique partnership made up of academics, industry members and NGOs who are committed to finding a way to have a food system that manages phosphorus while protecting rivers, lakes and oceans. The alliance is located at the Biodesign Institute at ASU in the Biodesign Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology, with the support of center Director Bruce Rittmann.

Elser, along with organizer and alliance program manager Matt Scholz, served as hosts for the annual forum, held recently at ASU, which centered on themes of sustainable application of phosphorus fertilizers to farms.