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Why phosphorous

Phosphorus is a chemical element, which plays a key role in most vital processes

Phosphorus is important to our health for a number of reasons:

  • participates in the formation of bones and teeth;
  • plays a vital role in energy metabolism at a cellular level and consequently in the organism as whole;
  • is a key element in the DNA structure;
  • is part of numerous proteins;
  • Phosphorus is the second largest mineral element in the human body in terms of mass (after calcium);
  • 85% of the phosphorus is found in the bones and teeth, 1% in the blood and other liquids, and another 14% in soft tissues (primarily in muscles).

Phosphorus is essential for plant growth and increases crop yields. Plants accumulate phosphorus and are a source of phosphorus for humans and animals

  • is contained in all parts of green plants – in the stems, stalks, roots and leaves, but above all in fruits and seeds;
  • plays a decisive role in photosynthesis and in all processes related to the restoration of energy;
  • facilitates the growth of plants and their roots;
  • participates in the assimilation of nitrogen by plants;
  • helps to accelerate the maturity of plants;
  • is essential for the propagation of plants;
  • enhances the durability of stems;
  • increases plant resistance to cold and drought.

  • Global requirements in phosphorous (P2O5) in 2015 will reach approximately 45 million tonnes, based on average annual growth rates equal to 2.5%**
  • The share of fertilisers based on phosphoric acid increased from 75% in 2000 to 82% in 2010. It is expected that this figure will increase to 84% by 2015***

Phosphorus is essential for the formation and strengthening of animal bone tissue. It plays a vital role in digestion and other metabolic processes.

  • is essential to the growth and maintenance of teeth and bones, accounting for 80% of all the phosphorus present in the body
  • participates in the foundation of the skeletal base
  • plays a vital role in energy transfer
  • participates in the synthesis of protein and metabolism
  • participates in nucleinic acid processes transferring genetic information and also regulates the biosynthesis of proteins and immune processes
  • strengthens reproductive functions
  • is essential for lactationincreases the appetite

Content of phosphorus in the organism of livestock and poultry

  • In the case of egg-laying chickens – 13 grams per 2kg of weight, in the case of sheep – 280 grams per 50 kg, in the case of pigs – 460 grams per 100kg, in the case of cows – 3.6-5 kg per 600 kg of weight
  • The use of feed containing 3.5 grams of phosphorous per 1kg result in an average yield of egg-laying chickens of 65.7 eggs, and 4.5 grams per 1kg – already 68.3 eggs

Phosphorus is used not only to produce phosphate-based fertilisers for plants and feed phosphates for animals. It is also contained in products that people use every day, including:

  • in food additives (for baking, drinks, the preparation of meat dishes, cheese, canned food, etc.);
  • in medicines and personal care products (toothpaste, cosmetics, etc.);
  • in chemical products and chemicals (detergents and cleaning agents, fire extinguishers, water treatment products, batteries for hybrid cars and electric cars, ceramics, cement, paints, etc.)

Approximately 82% of the phosphoric acid produced globally is used to produce fertilisers. Another 18% is used in the production of feed phosphates, medicines, foodstuffs; in addition, phosphorous is used during the treatment of metals, in medicine and dental solutions. Demand for phosphoric acid for the production of feed, food-grade and industrial phosphates will reach 6 million tonnes (P2O5) by 2015.

Four countries account in aggregate for 73% of global phosphate production. High-grade ore deposits boasting a high concentration of phosphorus and low content of harmful impurities are rare. Development of lower-quality deposite results in rising prices for raw materials for the production of phosphate-based mineral fertilisers.

The main consumers of phosphate-based fertilisers are countries where the population and average per capita incomes are growing –India, Brazil and China. They account for 57% of global consumption of phosphate-based fertilisers. However, none of these countries have sufficient capacities for the production of phosphate-based fertilisers and the necessary reserves of raw materials. India and Brazil are the largest importers of fertilisers. China is ramping up mineral fertiliser production capacities. However, over the next decade the country will not be self-sufficient in high-grade raw materials (over 30% P2O5).

Only a few countries contain the necessary raw material base for the production of phosphate-based fertilisers, and Russia is among the best-positioned. 

*See 2011 Annual Report 2011
*Source: M. Prud’homme, “Fertilisers and Raw Materials Supply and Global Supply/Demand Balances: 2011 – 2015”, IFA, June 2011: 38
**Source: M. Prud’homme: 38 

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