Phosphorus and Plant Growth

Phosphorus (P) is an essential nutrient for terrestrial and aquatic plant growth. To optimize crop growth on agricultural land, additional P often needs to be supplied as fertilizer or animal manure. Phosphorus is available to plants as orthophosphate ions (H2PO4- and HPO4-2) and certain soluble organic phosphates (nucleic acids and phytin). An important by-product of the animal feeding industry is manure, which often contains high amounts of P. Land application of manure can be beneficial to crop production; but, if the P is transported from the land into surface water, environmental problems can develop.