This month, the Everglades Foundation became a founding partner and member of the board of directors of the North American Partnership for Phosphorus Sustainability (NAPPS). NAPPS was created by a team of phosphorus researchers from Arizona State University to actively engage and promote sustainable phosphorus-handling practices in both the public and private sectors.
On May 18 – 21, partners convened in Washington, D.C. to study ways of creating a sustainable phosphorus fertilizer system. The keynote speaker was Nancy Rabalais, the 2012 recipient of the Mac Arthur Genius Award. Everglades Foundation chief scientist Dr. Melodie Naja participated in one of four expert panels to discuss water quality issues and highlight our $10 million science prize to combat phosphorus pollution in water.
Phosphorus is a vital and non-renewable natural resource that plays a critical role in food and water security. A widely used fertilizer ingredient, it is being consumed with increasing intensity to support agriculture throughout the world. Science-based supply and application of fertilizers helped spur the “green revolution” that narrowly averted drastic food shortages half a century ago.
However, recent studies suggest that the food and nutrition needs of an ever-expanding human population may lead to the depletion of remaining high-grade phosphorus reserves within the next six to ten decades. Already, shrinking supplies are contributing to skyrocketing fertilizer costs, which severely undermine the affordability of food produced.
Wasteful fertilizer application creates an abundance of harmful phosphorus that accelerates degradation of our precious water resources. Runoff phosphorus upsets the fragile ecology of plants and animals in rivers, lakes and wetlands. Excess phosphorus in Lake Okeechobee leads to toxic algae blooms that threaten surrounding rivers and estuaries and the Everglades. The Everglades Foundation is committed to finding innovative solutions to combat phosphorus pollution in the Everglades and abroad.