Phosphorus is an essential nutrient for crop growth. Phosphate rock is a natural raw material that is a nutrient-rich source for phosphorus. However, reserves are dwindling and conversion of phosphate rock to water-soluble phosphorus fertilizer is inefficient. Thus, it is essential to improve the efficiency of crop uptake of phosphorus directly from phosphate rock.
IFDC scientists, in collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), developed the Phosphate Rock Decision Support System (PRDSS), a computerized system that predicts the feasibility of phosphate rock for direct application to crops. The PRDSS is available on the FAO/IAEA website (identified as Direct Application of Phosphate Rock).
The development of the PRDSS results from 25 years of evaluation of phosphate rock applied to crops in Latin America, Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. The decision support tool functions with minimal input: soil pH, phosphate rock source and crop species. The PRDSS can also use farm-gate prices to determine which is more economical – water-soluble phosphate or phosphate rock.