Phosphorus is one of the primary nutrients essential for plant growth and crop production. It is a non-renewable resource that must be mined from nature. It cannot be artificially produced. We do not, however, mine phosphorus. We mine phosphate minerals.
Phosphorus (P) is required by every living plant and animal cell. Deficiencies in available P in soils are a major cause of limited crop production. Phosphorus deficiency also is probably the most critical mineral deficiency in grazing livestock, according to “The Effect of Soils and Fertilizers on Human and Animal Nutrition,” U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Information Bulletin No. 378, issued in 1975. When P fertilizers are added to soils deficient in the available form of this element, increased crop and pasture yields ordinarily follow.
Phosphorus is highly reactive and is not found in its elemental form in nature. It occurs in nature as phosphate, which is a charged group of atoms, or an ion. It is made up of a phosphorus atom and four oxygen atoms (PO 4 ) and carries three negative charges. The phosphate ion combines with various atoms and molecules within living organisms to form many different compounds essential to life.
Phosphorus in its pure form has a white colour. White phosphorus is the most dangerous form of phosphorus that is known to us. When white phosphorus occurs in nature this can be a serious danger to our health. White phosphorus is extremely poisonous and in many cases exposure to it will be fatal.
Phosphorus can be found in the environment most commonly as phosphates. Phosphates are important substances in the human body, because they are a part of DNA materials and they take part in energy distribution. Phosphates can also be found commonly in plants.
Phosphorus is an essential nutrient required by plants that is primarily responsible for healthy root development and fruit and flower production. It is one of the three principal ingredients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium ) of fertilizers used for growing food around the world. Phosphorus is essential to plant life, and there is no substitute for it in agriculture. The supply of available phosphorus limits the size of the population possible in an ecosystem.
Phosphorus is so abundant in foods that deficiencies are unlikely. It participates with calcium in forming the crystals of bone and therefore is found in large quantities in the body.
Phosphorus is an essential mineral that is required by every cell in the body for normal function. The majority of the phosphorus in the body is found as phosphate (PO4). Approximately 85% of the body’s phosphorus is found in bone.
Phosphorus is found in most foods because it is a critical component of all living organisms. Dairy products, meat, and fish are particularly rich sources of phosphorus. Phosphorus is also in food additives, and is present in most soft drinks as phosphoric acid.
Phosphorus is a major structural component of bone in the form of a calcium phosphate salt called hydroxyapatite. Phospholipids (Oil and phosphorus) are major structural components of cell membranes (Walls). All energy production and storage are dependent on phosphorylated compounds, such as adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and creatine phosphate. Nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) are long chains of phosphate-containing molecules. A number of enzymes, hormones, and cell signaling molecules depend on phosphorylation for their activation. (Phosphorylation is the addition of a phosphate molecule to a protein.) Phosphorus also helps to maintain normal acid-alkaline balance (pH) in its role as one of the body’s most important buffers. The phosphorus-containing molecule 2,3-diphosphoglycerate (2,3-DPG) binds to hemoglobin in red blood cells and affects oxygen delivery to the tissues of the body.