Life-cycle phosphorus use efficiency of the farming system in Anhui Province, Central China
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The rapid increase of phosphorus (P) use in farming has raised concerns regarding its conservation and environmental impact. Increasing the P use efficiency (PUE) is an approach to mitigating these adverse impacts. In this study, we applied substance flow analysis (SFA) to establish a life-cycle P use efficiency model to determine the life-cycle PUE of the farming system used in Anhui Province in 2011, which is typical of the agriculture practiced in central China. Based on this model, the P flows and PUEs of five subsystems were identified and quantified: crop farming, crop processing, livestock breeding, rural living, and urban living. The three largest P flows were found in the crop farming and livestock breeding subsystems; it can therefore be concluded that these subsystems have substantial impacts on the entire farming system. In contrast, the PUEs of crop farming, rural consumption, and livestock breeding subsystems presented the three lowest PUEs (58.79%, 71.75%, and 76.65%, respectively). These results were also consistent with the finding that the greatest P losses occurred in crop farming and livestock breeding. Consequently, the study proposes that great potential exists for increasing PUEs in the farming system of Anhui, and several of the most promising measures could be combined for improving PUEs. Finally, the study assesses data quality and presents a sensitivity analysis for use in interpreting the results. The study also shows that improving PUE and decreasing P losses in farming systems through improved nutrient management must be considered an important issue, and this study represents valuable experience in resource conservation and agricultural development in China.
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