Phosphates are a naturally occurring resource with finite amounts deposited around the world. Phosphates are found in both igneous and sedimentary rock deposits. Phosphates are the primary, nutrient-rich source of the element phosphorus, an essential nutrient for crop growth.
However, phosphate rock reserves are dwindling and conversion of phosphate rock to water-soluble phosphorus fertilizer is expensive and inefficient. As a result of inefficiencies in its production and use, less than 30 percent of the phosphate mined to produce phosphorus fertilizer ever becomes a part of the food chain.
Improving the availability of phosphorus to crops from directly applied phosphate rock in diverse agro-climatic conditions and cropping systems is essential. Therefore, IFDC has embarked on a Phosphate Efficiency Intiative. One element of this research is focused on determining the amount of phosphate reserves available worldwide and how long they will last at current usage levels. Another area of research is to make directly applied phosphate rock as effective as the more expensive water-soluble fertilizers.