10 Things I Didn't Know About Phosphorus Fertilizer

7 thoughts on “10 Things I Didn't Know About Phosphorus Fertilizer”

  1. You might be interested in the interconnection of Liebig and Marx’s ideas (http://urbanag.pbworks.com/f/FosterMagdoff.pdf). They were mutual fans, iirc, though skimming through some old articles, I only see proof that Marx was Liebig’s fan. Liebig did, however, write “The American farmer despoils his field without the least attempt at method in the process? When it ceases to yield him sufficiently abundant crops, he simply quits it, and with his seeds and plants, betakes himself to a fresh field ; for there is plenty of good land to be had in America ; and it would not be worth his while to work the same field to absolute exhaustion. But our modern system of ” high farming” is an organised system of spoliation — ^the last, highest, and most finished degree of the art of wearing out
    the soil. ” (https://archive.org/stream/lettersonmoderna00lieb/lettersonmoderna00lieb_djvu.txt)

    Foster and Magdoff have further noted that Liebig advocated, yes, using mined and synthetic elements, but also admonished the Lord Mayor of London about the “Utilization of Municipal Sewage”, the lack of recycling in agricultural systems, and the lack of city-country connections; indeed, Engels summarized him thusly: “The abolition of the antithesis between town and country is no more and no less utopian than the abolition of the antithesis between capitalists and wage-workers. From day to day it is becoming more and more a practical demand of both industrial and agricultural production. No one has demanded this more energetically than Liebig in his writings on the chemistry of agriculture, in which his first demand has always been that man shall give back to the land what he receives from it, and in which he proves that only the existence of the towns, and in particular the big towns, prevents this. When one observes how here in London alone a greater quantity of manure than is produced in the whole kingdom of Saxony is poured away every day into the sea with an expenditure of enormous sums, and what colossal structures are necessary in order to prevent this manure from poisoning the whole of London, then the utopia of abolishing the distinction between town and country is given a remarkably practical basis.” (http://monthlyreview.org/2013/12/01/marx-rift-universal-metabolism-nature)

  2. This is a really great post! I am a botanist, and knew of the need for P but didn’t give much thought to where we get it. This seems to mirror the shortage we will face with helium. Although the helium crisis is already upon us….only the public hasn’t heard.

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