White phosphorus exposed to air glows in the dark
A farmer spreading manure to improve soil fertility
The tetrahedral structure of P4O10 and P4S10.
World population supported with and without synthetic nitrogen fertilizers.
A stable diphosphene, a derivative of phosphorus(I).
Founded in 1812, Mirat, producer of manures and fertilizers, is claimed to be the oldest industrial business in Salamanca (Spain).
Robert Boyle
Six tomato plants grown with and without nitrate fertilizer on nutrient-poor sand/clay soil. One of the plants in the nutrient-poor soil has died.
Guano mining in the Central Chincha Islands, ca. 1860.
Inorganic fertilizer use by region
Mining of phosphate rock in Nauru
Total nitrogenous fertilizer consumption per region, measured in tonnes of total nutrient per year.
Match striking surface made of a mixture of red phosphorus, glue and ground glass. The glass powder is used to increase the friction.
An apatite mine in Siilinjärvi, Finland.
Phosphorus explosion
Compost bin for small-scale production of organic fertilizer
A large commercial compost operation
Applying superphosphate fertilizer by hand, New Zealand, 1938
Fertilizer burn
N-Butylthiophosphoryltriamide, an enhanced efficiency fertilizer.
Fertilizer use (2018). From FAO's World Food and Agriculture – Statistical Yearbook 2020
The diagram displays the statistics of fertilizer consumption in western and central European counties from data published by The World Bank for 2012.
Runoff of soil and fertilizer during a rain storm
Large pile of phosphogypsum waste near Fort Meade, Florida.
Red circles show the location and size of many dead zones.
Global methane concentrations (surface and atmospheric) for 2005; note distinct plumes

For most modern agricultural practices, fertilization focuses on three main macro nutrients: Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K) with occasional addition of supplements like rock dust for micronutrients.

- Fertilizer

The vast majority of phosphorus compounds mined are consumed as fertilisers.

- Phosphorus
White phosphorus exposed to air glows in the dark

7 related topics

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Eutrophication

Process by which an entire body of water, or parts of it, becomes progressively enriched with minerals and nutrients, particularly nitrogen and phosphorus.

Process by which an entire body of water, or parts of it, becomes progressively enriched with minerals and nutrients, particularly nitrogen and phosphorus.

1. Excess nutrients are applied to the soil. 2. Some nutrients leach into the soil and later drain into surface water. 3. Some nutrients run off over the ground into the body of water.  4. The excess nutrients cause an algal bloom.  5. The algal bloom reduces light penetration. 6. The plants beneath the algal bloom die because they cannot get sunlight to perform photosynthesis.  7. Eventually, the algal bloom dies and sinks to the bottom of the lake. Bacterial communities begin to decompose the remains, using up oxygen for respiration.  8. The decomposition causes the water to become depleted of oxygen if the water body is not regularly mixed vertically. Larger life forms, such as fish die.
Sodium triphosphate, once a component of many detergents, was a major contributor to eutrophication.
Cultural eutrophication is caused by human additions of nutrients into the water that cause over growth of algae which can block light and air exchange. The algae eventually are broken down by bacteria causing anoxic conditions and "dead zones".
Aerial view of Lake Valencia experiencing a large cultural eutrophication flux due to untreated wastewater discharging into the lake.
Eutrophication is apparent as increased turbidity in the northern part of the Caspian Sea, imaged from orbit.
Map of measured Gulf hypoxia zone, July 25–31, 2021-LUMCON-NOAA
Oxygen minimum zones (OMZs) (blue) and areas with coastal hypoxia (red) in the world’s ocean.
Eutrophication in a canal
The eutrophication of the Mono Lake which is a cyanobacteria-rich Soda lake.
Application of a phosphorus sorbent to a lake - The Netherlands

Anthropogenic or "cultural eutrophication" is often a much more rapid process in which nutrients are added to a water body from a wide variety of polluting inputs including untreated or partially treated sewage, industrial wastewater and fertilizer from farming practices.

Nutrient pollution, a form of water pollution, is a primary cause of eutrophication of surface waters, in which excess nutrients, usually nitrogen or phosphorus, stimulate algal and aquatic plant growth.

Phosphoric acid speciation

Phosphate

Anion, salt, functional group or ester derived from a phosphoric acid.

Anion, salt, functional group or ester derived from a phosphoric acid.

Phosphoric acid speciation
Phosphate mine near Flaming Gorge, Utah, US, 2008
Train loaded with phosphate rock, Métlaoui, Tunisia, 2012
Sea surface phosphate from the World Ocean Atlas
Relationship of phosphate to nitrate uptake for photosynthesis in various regions of the ocean. Note that nitrate is more often limiting than phosphate. See the Redfield ratio.
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The phosphate ion has a molar mass of 94.97 g/mol, and consists of a central phosphorus atom surrounded by four oxygen atoms in a tetrahedral arrangement.

This is a concern because radioactivity can be released into surface waters from application of the resulting phosphate fertilizer.

Daniel Rutherford, discoverer of nitrogen

Nitrogen

Chemical element with the symbol N and atomic number 7.

Chemical element with the symbol N and atomic number 7.

Daniel Rutherford, discoverer of nitrogen
The shapes of the five orbitals occupied in nitrogen. The two colours show the phase or sign of the wave function in each region. From left to right: 1s, 2s (cutaway to show internal structure), 2px, 2py, 2pz.
Table of nuclides (Segrè chart) from carbon to fluorine (including nitrogen). Orange indicates proton emission (nuclides outside the proton drip line); pink for positron emission (inverse beta decay); black for stable nuclides; blue for electron emission (beta decay); and violet for neutron emission (nuclides outside the neutron drip line). Proton number increases going up the vertical axis and neutron number going to the right on the horizontal axis.
Molecular orbital diagram of dinitrogen molecule, N2. There are five bonding orbitals and two antibonding orbitals (marked with an asterisk; orbitals involving the inner 1s electrons not shown), giving a total bond order of three.
Solid nitrogen on the plains of Sputnik Planitia on Pluto next to water ice mountains
Structure of [Ru(NH3)5(N2)]2+ (pentaamine(dinitrogen)ruthenium(II)), the first dinitrogen complex to be discovered
Mesomeric structures of borazine, (–BH–NH–)3
Standard reduction potentials for nitrogen-containing species. Top diagram shows potentials at pH 0; bottom diagram shows potentials at pH 14.
Nitrogen trichloride
Nitrogen dioxide at −196 °C, 0 °C, 23 °C, 35 °C, and 50 °C. converts to colourless dinitrogen tetroxide at low temperatures, and reverts to  at higher temperatures.
Fuming nitric acid contaminated with yellow nitrogen dioxide
Schematic representation of the flow of nitrogen compounds through a land environment
A container vehicle carrying liquid nitrogen.

Synthetically produced ammonia and nitrates are key industrial fertilisers, and fertiliser nitrates are key pollutants in the eutrophication of water systems.

Thus, despite nitrogen's position at the head of group 15 in the periodic table, its chemistry shows huge differences from that of its heavier congeners phosphorus, arsenic, antimony, and bismuth.

Taken from orbit in October 2011, the worst algae bloom that Lake Erie has experienced in decades. Record torrential spring rains washed fertilizer into the lake, promoting the growth of microcystin-producing cyanobacteria blooms.

Algal bloom

Rapid increase or accumulation in the population of algae in freshwater or marine water systems.

Rapid increase or accumulation in the population of algae in freshwater or marine water systems.

Taken from orbit in October 2011, the worst algae bloom that Lake Erie has experienced in decades. Record torrential spring rains washed fertilizer into the lake, promoting the growth of microcystin-producing cyanobacteria blooms.
Algal blooms can present problems for ecosystems and human society. Example from a small mountain village near Chengdu, China, in 2005
Cyanobacteria activity turns Coatepeque Caldera lake into a Turquoise color
An algae bloom off the southern coast of Devon and Cornwall in England, in 1999
Satellite image of phytoplankton swirling around the Swedish island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea, in 2005
Rivers, such as the Amazon, deposit nutrients from land into South America's tropical ocean waters, leading to thick blooms along the coastline{{hsp}}
Blooms flourish in a dark plume of nutrient-rich water pouring from the mouth of the Amazon River, as seen by NASA's Aqua satellite.

Algal blooms are the result of a nutrient, like nitrogen or phosphorus from various sources (for example fertilizer runoff or other forms of nutrient pollution), entering the aquatic system and causing excessive growth of algae.

Wet process flow diagram of phosphoric acid production. CW - cooling water.

Phosphoric acid

Inorganic compound with the chemical formula H3PO4.

Inorganic compound with the chemical formula H3PO4.

Wet process flow diagram of phosphoric acid production. CW - cooling water.

To produce food-grade phosphoric acid, phosphate ore is first reduced with coke in an electric arc furnace, to give elemental phosphorus.

The dominant use of phosphoric acid is for fertilizers, consuming approximately 90% of production.

Peloidal phosphorite, Phosphoria Formation, Simplot Mine, Idaho. 4.6 cm wide.

Phosphorite

Non-detrital sedimentary rock that contains high amounts of phosphate minerals.

Non-detrital sedimentary rock that contains high amounts of phosphate minerals.

Peloidal phosphorite, Phosphoria Formation, Simplot Mine, Idaho. 4.6 cm wide.
Fossiliferous peloidal phosphorite, (4.7 cm across), Yunnan Province, China.
Guano phosphorite mining in the Chincha Islands of Peru, c. 1860
Phosphorite mine near Oron, Negev, Israel.

This rock phosphate is then either solubilized to produce wet-process phosphoric acid, or smelted to produce elemental phosphorus.

Approximately 90% of rock phosphate production is used for fertilizer and animal feed supplements and the balance for industrial chemicals.

Phosphogypsum stack located near Kėdainiai, Lithuania 55.24639°N, 24.02889°W.

Phosphogypsum

Phosphogypsum stack located near Kėdainiai, Lithuania 55.24639°N, 24.02889°W.
A 2015 astronaut photo of the Medina of Sfax with part of the port and the distinctive circular earth works of the 420 ha Taparura redevelopment project of which 260 ha have been reclaimed from the sea by depositing phosphogypsum.
A phosphogypsum stack or "gyp stack", located near Fort Meade, Florida. These contain the waste byproducts of the phosphate fertilizer industry.

Phosphogypsum (PG) is the calcium sulfate hydrate formed as a by-product of the production of fertilizer from phosphate rock.

Other components of phosphogypsum include silica (5–10%), fluoride (F, ~1%), phosphorus (P, ~0.5%), iron (Fe, ~0.1%), aluminum (Al, ~0.1%), barium (Ba, 50 ppm), lead (Pb, ~5 ppm), chromium (Cr, ~3 ppm), selenium (Se, ~1 ppm), cadmium (Cd, ~0.3 ppm).