Re-focusing phosphorus use in the uk food system

Why is phosphorus important?

without phosphorus, we cannot produce food

Phosphorus is a key nutrient required for crop and livestock production, but the global reserves of phosphate rock from which fertilisers and feeds are derived are a finite resource found only in a few countries. The UK has no domestic source of phosphorus, therefore the sustainable management of phosphorus is critical to the UK food system.


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About the project

RePhoKUs (The Role of Phosphorus in the Resilience and Sustainability of the UK Food System) aims to re-focus phosphorus use in the UK food system in order to achieve sustainable phosphorus use and deliver valued ecosystem services such as clean water and biodiversity. The UK has no domestic source of phosphorus and is reliant on imports for fertilisers, feeds and foods. UK agriculture is therefore vulnerable to future global shortages of phosphorus and fluctuating import prices. Phosphorus leakage from land to water also causes widespread and costly pollution (worth £39.5 billion), which is likely to become worse as imports increase in line with higher demand for food and if inefficiencies are not addressed. This project will undertake the first ever phosphorus vulnerability assessment of the UK’s food system, bringing together experts in catchment science, adaptive capacity and food system vulnerability.

  • Aim: to identify variations in the reslience of local agricultural and water catchments in response to phosphorus runoff into water sources

  • Aim: to address the capacity of farmers and other stakeholders to adapt to risks, such as implementing phosphorus re-use and recycling options

  • Aim: to undertake a phosphorus vulnerability assessment of the UK's food system to co-design a national adaptation strategy together with national stakeholders

The researchers

Meet the team

See our project on ResearchGate