More efficient phosphorus use can avoid cropland expansion

José M. Mogollón*, Alexander F. Bouwman, Arthur H.W. Beusen, Luis Lassaletta, Hans J.M. van Grinsven, Henk Westhoek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Global projections indicate that approximately 500 Mha of new arable land will be required to meet crop demand by 2050. Applying a dynamic phosphorus (P) pool simulator under different socioeconomic scenarios, we find that cropland expansion can be avoided with less than 7% additional cumulative P fertilizer over 2006–2050 when comparing with cropland expansion scenarios, mostly targeted at nutrient-depleted soils of sub-Saharan Africa. Additional P fertilizer would replenish P withdrawn from crop production, thereby allowing higher productivity levels. We also show that further agronomic improvements such as those that allow for better (legacy) P use in soils could reduce both P outflows to freshwater and coastal ecosystems and the overall demand for P fertilizer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)509-518
Number of pages10
JournalNature Food
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


Dive into the research topics of 'More efficient phosphorus use can avoid cropland expansion'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this