Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Civil and Environmental Engineering | Environmental Engineering
Phosphorus (P) is an essential life-supporting nutrient for which there is no substitute. Modern farming practice and food production are supported by the application of mineral P fertiliser derived from finite mined phosphate rock. The European Union does not have indigenous mineral phosphate reserves, which poses a significant issue to food security. This research paper assesses the potential of indigenous recycled P sources to replace imported P fertiliser within the Republic of Ireland. The research is undertaken at NUTS 3 (Nomenclature of Territorial Units) regional level, the nutrient soil P requirement is established, and the extent to which the regional production of indigenous recycled P sources can offset this requirement is determined. The soil P requirement was derived from analyzing the regional soil P indexes, stocking rate and land-use. It was established that to optimise Irish agricultural production, approximately 95,500 t of P fertiliser is required by Irish agriculture per annum. Indigenous P sources were reviewed to determine their contribution to the Irish P balance; the sources included sewage sludge, dairy processing waste, and animal manures. Regional indigenous P quantities vary greatly with the South-West Region producing the largest quantity of indigenous recycled P at 42.4% of required P than the Mid-West Region only producing 22.0% of its P requirement indigenously. Sources of indigenous P also vary greatly from region to region depending on population and industry, with the highest quantity of sewage sludge being produced in the Dublin plus Mid-East Region while the greatest contributor of dairy waste is the South-West Region. In total, over 28,500 t of P is recovered from indigenous sources per annum. This indicates that approximately 30% of the national P requirement could be met by indigenous P recycling.
Ciarán O'Donnell, Aoife Egan, Joe Harrington, Denise Barnett, Patrick Forrestal, Niamh Power, An overview on deficit and requirements of the Irish national soil phosphorus balance, Science of The Total Environment, Volume 785, 2021,147251,https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.147251.