Feeds

'Smear agricultural land with human poo'

Fight 'peak phosphorus' with ass soil, urges Soil Ass.

Application security programs and practises

Aptly named UK organic farming organisation The Soil Association has called for the human race to use much more of its own poo to assist food production - in an effort to stave off a new eco menace that the charity has dubbed "peak phosphorus".

According to the organics group, "peak phosphorus" represents nothing less than a "threat to global food security". At present most food grown in the tremendously productive, surplus-yielding farms of Europe and North America uses artificial fertilisers. One of the main ingredients for these fertilisers is phosphorus, which is mined from phosphate-bearing rocks at the rate of 158 megatonnes annually at the moment.

The Soil Association, being an organic-farming outfit, is of course totally opposed to all use of artificial fertilisers, instead arguing for the use of animal manure and other natural sources of nitrate and phosphates. Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, a new report by the Soil group has concluded that rock phosphates mining production could peak "as early as 2033". This would be a crisis of, er, trouser-soiling magnitude, apparently.

"We [that is Europe, which imports its rock phosphate] are completely unprepared to deal with the shortages in phosphorus inputs, the drop in production and the hike in food prices that will follow," argue the Soil-ers.

The author of the report is Dr Isobel Tomlinson, who holds a bachelor's degree in Environmental Policy and Management and a masters in Public Understanding of Environmental Change. Her PhD was an examination of the development of UK Government policy on organic food and farming over the last 25 years.

Dr Tomlinson says the key to sidestepping "peak phosphorus" is to get human excrement and urine much more involved in food production. Her plan is dubbed "Ecological Sanitation", and calls for changes to EU regulations forbidding the use of human sewage on agricultural land. Apparently, "urine alone contains more than 50 per cent of the phosphorus excreted by humans".

"A radical rethink of how we farm, what we eat and how we deal with human excreta, so that adequate phosphorus levels can be maintained without reliance on mined phosphate, is crucial for ensuring our future food supplies," says Tomlinson.

The enviro-PR doc also, again unsurprisingly, advocates the eating of less meat "because vegetable-based production is more efficient in its use of phosphorus than livestock production".

Previous criticism of meat-eating by the UN - subsequently endorsed by Sir Paul McCartney, in alliance with Dr Rajendra Pachauri of the IPCC - has since come in for some criticism.

Those who would like to find out more about peak phosphorus can do so here, courtesy of the Soil Association. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.