Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Phosphorus and the Sustainable Development Goals

Phosphorus = {People.Planet.Prosperity.Peace.Partnership}

This week I have had the pleasure to deliver an invited Keynote at the British Society of Soil Science annual meeting on "Soil, Water, Phosphorus and the Sustainable Development Goals".  It was an enriching, but equally worrisome intellectual experience to think about how these issues alligned and my conclusions were:


- Phosphorus feeds us!  Key to our existence on earth and transformed humanity since 1940s
- Soil P behaviour tricky!  In the long term it ‘sticks’ to soil and thus plant acquisition is complex.  Can we better use indigenous soil organic P?
- Despite, it is easily transferred to water and pollutes
- Climate change estimates are that this will accelerate
Long term – it is on a non- sustainable journey to the sea
- We are nowhere near being able to manage the P cycle and fulfil sustainable development goals!



Tuesday, 14 August 2018

US Environmental Protection Agency Webinair on "The Phosphorus Cycle"

Today I had the pleasure of being asked to address the US EPA to present work on Long Term Changes in the Phosphorus Cycle, work which had arisen from our work published here in Nature Communications.

I was encoraged and grateful for the attendance and the level of interest shown and the degree of comprehension and acceptence of the scale of the problem.  We discussed issues such as the magnitude of the problem, the long term phosphorus sustainability issue and how we might attempt to mitigate the problems through better use of soil phosphorus and managing the delivery of the phosphorus.

Lots of work to do but spreading the word, slowly but surely.....

Friday, 20 July 2018

Teaching Alpine Processes - in Arolla Switzerland with the University of Lausanne

Inspirational view of Mt Colon on the first day of work
I have just returned from an inspirational week teaching a new Lancaster University 3rd year undergraduate module in Arolla in the Swiss Alps.  The new module,"Alpine Environmental Processes", was run in collaboration with our colleagues at the University of Lausanne, arising from a series of long term discussions we have shared seeking a strategic partnership.  

Particular thanks and credit must go to Professor Stuart Lane from University of Lausanne who was our collaborating partner and helped lead the way for us Stuart has been researching in Arolla since his first visit back in 1989.   Stuart is an inspiration. 

Stuart Lane with the students

The LU team, myself L and Rob Mills R



Our base was the stunning Hotel Aiguille de la Tza Arolla and I was accompanied by the talented Dr Rob Mills from Lancaster, who also has prior experience researching in the valley.


The format was that Lancaster and Lausanne students partnered together and chose to focus on some detailed aspects of alpine environmental processes, choosing from a number of thematic areas.  This year, as it was a pioneer, the Lancaster group was relatively small and we had groups focussed on studying soil respiration in relation to avalanche damage, studying the effects of soil nutrient cycling in relation to an altitudinal gradient, studying processes leading to glacial ice melt in relation to moraine cover, and finally studying rates and properties of glacial meltwater.

On the medial moraine of the upper Arolla Glacier

Studying soil respiration with an altitudinal gradient

It was a marvellous week that I found it rewarding and inspiring, and I was particularly excited to be able to walk on the Haute Arolla Glacier and see processes close up, some of which took me back to my undergraduate days.  I took lots of photographs which you can view here and also made a film which can be viewed below, and we have a hashtag #LECAlpine.  I cannot wait until next year!


Thursday, 19 July 2018

Phosphorus - at the ASLO Victoria

On 10-18th June 2018 I was invited to attend and talk at the 2018 ASLO (Association of Limnology and Oceanography) summer meeting in Victoria, Canada, called "Water Connects!". Specifically, I was asked to give a tutorial in a session Called "Past Present and Future Phosphorus Cycling: From the Mine to the Deep Sea". 

The session was organised by Jose Manuel Mogollon (Leiden University in the Netherlands), with Lauriane Vilmin (Utrecht, Netherlands) and Pater Kraal (Royal NIOZ, Netherlands).  Other interesting contacts who were part of the group were Julien Nemery from the University of Grenoble, who was doing some neat comparing French and Vietnamese Rivers, and a great perspective on a paper on the Baltic Sea by Michelle McCrackin and Dennis Swaney et al (who kindly showed a screen shot of my Legacy Hypothesis paper!). John A. Harrison from Washington State University was also a great contact who gave a neat perspective on the global scale challenges of modelling P.   



To conclude the session Jose the convenor gave a nice perspective on the P cycle in the oceans and touched on some interesting cases of ocean anoxia, which I find fascinating.  It was an inspiring grouping for me because I was amongst big picture earth system and ocean perspective people who helped me widen my thinking away from the traditional soil and catchment science that I find myself among day to day.  


As well as my core session it was great to catch up with my buddy Jim Elser and co author of our in progress book for a progress check-in together.....
















I also enjoyed the social activities, the highlights of which were a hire-bike ride around the coast and a harbour social where I met my old Aussie mate Mike Grace from Monash University.

I was very impressed with Victoria, decent kind people and a progressive attitude.  Thanks for having me everybody!

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Special Issue On Organic Phosphorus

Move fast folks….. I am delighted to inform you that the complete special issue entitled Organic Phosphorus: Potential Solutions for Phosphorus Security in Plant and Soil, from our Workshop, is now complete and available free to download for 1 month only now here.  This was lead edited by mysef with Daniel Blackburn and Philippe Hinsinger, plus it includes for papers from my team.

A related paper from the Workshop by  myself and Tony 'AF' Harrison and Ben Turner is also available to read in the European Journal of Soil Science Anniversary Issue here.

That’s me signing off now from OP2016 Workshop Organizing. Last one from OP2016 turn off the lights….. Next stop OP2019 Sweden…..

Cheers, Phil

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Welcome Anchen to he mysterious world of Phosphine!

It was my pleasure to welcome Anchen Kehler to Lancaster University today. Anchen has recently started studying for her PhD with Dr Martin Blackwell at Rothamsted Research and myself as her supevisors. Anchen is focussing on he mysterious world of phosphine gas, a little-researched compound of the phosphorus cycle that represents a potentially interesting means of cycling phosphourus that we really don't undertsand too well. Anchen is part of the STARS National Doctoral Training Centre, and for most of hear time is based at North Wyke in Devon. Welcome Anchen, you have some great potential and a really interesting subject!