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The role of Phosphorus in the Resilience and Sustainability of the UK food system

Investigators
Julia Martin-ortega
Institutions
University of Texas
Start date
2018
End date
2021
Objective

Sustainable management of phosphorus (P) is vital for the resilience and security of the UK food system, and the delivery of ecosystem services (ES) such as clean water and biodiversity. Fertilisers and feeds are derived from phosphate rock, a critical, costly and finite resource, whose scarcity or fluctuating cost (P shocks) could threaten the UKs food security. Phosphorus is also an endemic water pollutant due to inefficiencies in the food chain. Improved stewardship of P is therefore urgently needed both to increase the resilience of the UK food system to P shocks and enable the sustainable intensification of UK agriculture. This project aims to enhance the resilience and sustainability of the UK food system by developing adaptive strategies that will reduce the vulnerability of UK farming to future P shocks and optimise the provision of ES. This will require an interdisciplinary approach, as vulnerability is defined by the human, physical, social, natural, and financial capitals that determine the capacity of stakeholders to make adaptations to current P use. This 3-year project will develop methods to characterize the effects of biophysical, social and institutional heterogeneity in catchments on the response of different ES to P inputs and the vulnerability to P shocks. This will enable the identification of farm and catchment scale adaptation strategies for sustainable P management practices to overcome P vulnerability and enhance ES. The project will also deliver the first national P vulnerability assessment for the UK food system and identify priorities for a National Adaptation Strategy. The project will result in novel outputs that integrate catchment biophysical and socio-economic variability into a suite of co-developed, context-specific, and implementable P measures and adaptive strategies that will increase the sustainability and resilience of the UK food system.

Funding Source
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Project source
View this project
Project number
BB/R005656/1
Categories
Food Defense and Integrity
Chemical Contaminants
Risk Assessment, Management, and Communication