Special Issue "Managing Nutrient Balances in Agriculture - Agronomy, Animal Manure and the Circularity of Nitrogen and Phosphorus"

A special issue of Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395). This special issue belongs to the section "Farming Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 May 2021.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Arno Rosemarin
Guest Editor
Stockholm Environment Institute, Sweden
Interests: phosphorus use efficiency; phytase and phytate in feed; phosphorus/nitrogen ratios; manure management; soil nutrient dynamics; runoff and eutrophication management; feed-animal-manure nutrient mass balance; managing phosphorus surpluses in agriculture; farm-based economics; reuse of phosphorus from agro-wastes and sewage sludge; governance of phosphorus and nitrogen use in agriculture

Special Issue Information

Dear colleague,

The need for increased sustainable use of phosphorus has come into focus over the past decade with the realization that extensive, relatively cheap commercial reserves of phosphate rock are presently limited to only a handful of countries. Intensive animal farms such as dairy, pig and poultry can experience manure management and reuse challenges, resulting in overdosing croplands with more phosphorus than what target crops require. This results in phosphorus enrichment of the upper soil layers and eventually in losses to the surrounding catchment areas through runoff. For sensitive areas, these surpluses can result in the long-term eutrophication of water bodies. Due to site variability, regulations to match the manure phosphorus additions to crop offtake requirements are generally lacking around the world. Additionally, attempts at farmgate balancing and phosphorus indices have proven difficult over recent decades in North America and Europe. The general trend is that manure is spread on the basis of its nitrogen content in relation to crop requirements. Stored manure can lose its nitrogen content through ammonia and nitrate losses, resulting in a lowering of N/P content compared to fresh manure. This can result in the overdosing and wasting of phosphorus on croplands.

Solving this problem and achieving a more sustainable approach to phosphorus use in agriculture requires a re-examination of the entire system and fate of phosphorus in the soil, feedcrops, feed regimes, animal densities, manure treatment, storage and spreading, runoff potential and sensitivity of catchment areas.

This Special Issue will focus on various aspects of this system. Papers for this Special Issue are invited to include aspects of either environmental and/or economic sustainable use of phosphorus in agriculture. The following list of topics with global reach are relevant to this issue:

Soil–crop systems: phosphorus fertilizer norms and use efficiency in common crops; phosphorus offtake levels for common crops; nitrogen/phosphorus ratio fertilizer requirements in common crops; plant availability of phosphorus in manures and various manure-based fertilizers

Feed–animal–manure–crop systems: feed–animal–manure phosphorus mass balance and efficiencies in intensive dairy, pig and poultry farms; feed phosphorus retention and digestibility in farm animals taking into account phytase and phytate levels in feed, feed composition and regimes, pelletization or water content; manure management and treatment to retain nitrogen/phosphorus ratios to better match crop requirements and reduce surplus applications of phosphorus on croplands; farmgate balancing of phosphorus in order to minimize surpluses; cycling of phosphorus in animal farms to reduce surpluses; role of livestock densities in reaching sustainable phosphorus use in animal farms

Runoff and erosion: use of phosphorus indices to help to manage fertilizer/manure/sludge applications to cropland, assess soil phosphorus levels, determine soil erosion risk and potential losses of phosphorus from croplands to water courses; management of agricultural sources of phosphorus in calibrated watersheds using fate and impact models; soil mapping of surplus levels of phosphorus related to agriculture practices; precipitation and runoff models to determine the risk of soil erosion and runoff resulting in phosphorus losses from croplands to water courses; runoff and soil erosion management techniques to prevent phosphorus loading to water courses; impacts of excess phosphorus runoff in receiving waters 

Policies and governance: policies, regulations and governance of phosphorus in agriculture in order to reduce phosphorus surpluses and losses to drainage basins; governance and regulation of both phosphorus and nitrogen use in agriculture; regulations and national norms for phosphorus in the spreading of manure on croplands; inventory of agriculture activities and practices that may lead to phosphorus soil surpluses; regulations to manage phosphorus surpluses in agriculture (crop and animal farms); nutrient emissions trading within and between neighbouring drainage basins to help to achieve nutrient sustainability within agriculture

Economics: farm-based economics of phosphorus use in crop and animal farms; economics of manure treatment (e.g., storage, acidification, dewatering and drying) in order to enable transportation between intensive animal farms and feed croplands; economics of reuse in agriculture of phosphorus originating from agro-wastes and municipal sewage sludge; economic impacts of regulating phosphorus in agriculture to increase use efficiency and reduce surpluses and losses to drainage basins; economic impacts of including phosphorus balancing in agriculture

Ecotechnologies: new approaches to fertilizing crops to increase use efficiency and decrease nutrient surpluses and losses; novel farming practices that increase phosphorus use efficiency; production of fertilizers from agro-waste and municipal solid and liquid waste in order to close the loop on phosphorus and reduce the use of virgin mineral phosphorus rock sources.

Dr. Arno Rosemarin
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Agronomy is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • phosphorus in soil–crop systems
  • phosphorus in feed–animal–manure–crop systems
  • phosphorus in agriculture runoff and erosion
  • phosphorus in agriculture policies and governance
  • phosphorus in agriculture economics
  • Phosphorus in agriculture ecotechnologies

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
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