Sustainable Phosphorus Research Coordination Network (P RCN)

The P RCN has the following objectives:

  • Coordinate and integrate disconnected geological, agronomic, biogeochemical, economic, and sociological data and perspectives related to P sustainability;
  • Design and assess institutional, commercial, technological, and psychological solutions in conservation, recycling, and equitable distribution to establish P sustainability;
  • Engage policy makers to bridge the gap between understanding and enacting solutions.

Organizational structure

The P RCN is governed by a steering committee and has formed four working groups. A list of high priority working group topics was developed and prioritized in dialogue with stakeholders at workshops that took place in 2013 and 2014.

P RCN Working Groups

Recycle image

1. P Recycling

What are the most promising strategies for reduction and recovery of P flows in human, animal, and waste systems?

Efficiency/Conservation in production Image

2. Efficiency/Conservation in Production

What are the economic, social, institutional, and informational barriers and opportunities for conservation practices, adoption of new technologies, and acceptability of P efficient crops and practices?

Efficiency/Conservation in production Image

3. Demand

What are the global, regional, and country historical and forecast trends in P demand drivers? What do these trends of demand suggest about total global P demand when coupled with forecasts of population growth?

Fate, Transport, & Impact image

4. Fate, Transport, & Impact

How P is being managed on the land, how it is mobilized and transferred from a resource to a pollutant, and what can and can’t be done to minimize further water

Closing the Phosphorus cycle for a sustainable food system



Developing robust pathways of Phosphorus recycling.



Improving Phosphorus efficiency in food production.



Integrating recycling and efficiency to create a sustainable food system.


Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance (SPA)

In early 2014, participants at the Phosphorus Sustainability Research Coordination Network (P RCN) proposed to create the Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance (SPA) in order to implement sustainable P solutions. SPA will identify and endeavor to alleviate critical bottlenecks for decision-making, policy creation, and implementation of P efficiency and recycling technologies and strategies.

Organizational structure

SPA activities and stakeholder recruitment will be organized around the four shared P RCN – SPA themes: P Recycling, P Efficiency in Food Production, P Demand: Population, Food Choice and Bioenergy; P and Water Quality.

Representative activities will include:

  • Communicating opportunities presented by emerging research in P sustainability;
  • Building networks between different interest groups and sectors related to phosphorus management;
  • Fostering implementation of new technologies by improving the efficiency of business value chains;
  • Evaluating new P efficiency and recycling technologies, including feasibility, availability of suppliers, cost/benefit analysis, and life cycle analyses;
  • Assessing and facilitating regulatory development pertaining to phosphorus management, including waste, environmental, discharge, and agriculture to improve P sustainability;
  • Representing North American phosphorus management stakeholders and innovators in international meetings and initiatives;
  • Preparing relevant funding proposals for demonstration projects and integration and dissemination of new technologies and concepts; and
  • Defining a common vision for a sustainable P cycle in North America.

This new partnership will network with other international initiatives (such as Global Phosphorus Network, Global Phosphorus Resource Initiative, Phosphorus Summits, Nutrient Platforms in the Netherlands, Germany, Japan Phosphorus Recycling Council, European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform.)