Scientists transform waste water into valuable Phosphorus for soil rejuvenation


Scientists have made a significant breakthrough by extracting phosphorus from wastewater and utilizing it to enhance soil fertility through the innovative use of biochar. 

This eco-friendly approach aims to address the challenges associated with widespread agricultural practices while closing the loop on phosphorus pollution.

Importance of Phosphorus in Soil Health:

Phosphorus is a vital macronutrient for plant growth, playing a crucial role in the health and productivity of crops. However, excessive phosphorus runoff from agricultural activities poses a threat to aquatic ecosystems, leading to harmful algae blooms and ecological imbalance.

How Phosphorus Extracted from Wastewater:

Researchers, led by Professor Daniel Strawn at the University of Idaho, have developed a method to collect phosphorus from wastewater treatment plants and enrich biochar with this valuable nutrient. Biochar, created by incinerating organic material in an oxygen-deprived environment, acts as a porous sponge capable of retaining water and delivering essential nutrients to plants.

Unlocking Multiple Benefits:

The integration of phosphorus extraction from wastewater into biochar offers a multifaceted solution. Not only does it recycle phosphorus and improve water quality, but it also enhances soil health and acts as a carbon sink, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Comparing Materials for Optimal Phosphorus Absorption:

Through advanced technology, including synchrotron microscopy at the Canadian Light Source, Strawn and his team compared various materials to identify the most effective for phosphorus absorption when converted into biochar. Ruminant manure-based biochar exhibited the highest phosphorus retention, followed by activated carbon and pine tree clippings.

Utilizing Manure Waste:

In addition to its benefits as a soil amendment, manure waste can be repurposed for phosphorus extraction. Instead of disposing of manure in landfills when not needed for fertilization, it can be converted into biochar, contributing to sustainable resource management.

A Promising Solution with Global Potential:

Strawn has patented this innovative method and aims to disseminate this knowledge worldwide to address pressing environmental issues. By harnessing phosphorus from wastewater and incorporating it into biochar, the agricultural industry has the potential to transform challenges into sustainable solutions.

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Dr. Kirti Sisodhia

Content Writer

CATEGORIES Business Agriculture Technology Environment Health Education

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