Nitrate To Phosphate Crisis | Threat to Plant Species

There are several nutrients in soil and water which play an important role in plant growth and productivity like nitrate, phosphorous, potassium, etc. Reduction in nutrient level is now understudy to reduce the water and soil pollution and also avoid compromise on plant productivity.

European Nitrates Policies aim toward the reduction of nitrates outflow into the environment to inhibit water supply pollution. It is widely believed that it also helps protect endangered plant species that could be harmed by a high level of nutrients in water and soil such as nitrates.

However, International researchers from the Universities of Zurich, Göttingen, and Utrecht have indicated that many endangered species will indeed be affected by this policy.

Nitrogen in the form of nitrates is an essential plant nutrient. However, abundance can affect the biodiversity of plants and microorganisms like fungal ants. High nitrate thriving plant species can surpass the other-species acclimated to low nitrate levels in terms of production. Julian Schroeder, a co-author, says

Despite that the plant species performed well in reduced nitrate concentration, it is not enough to lower the nitrate content practically in fields. Because this practice can backfire if other nutrient concentrations and their effects could not be taken into consideration.

Additionally, for proper growth, plants also need potassium and phosphorus along with nitrogen. The researchers have revealed that a sufficient concentration of these nutrients is also very important besides nitrates. They have disclosed that the reduction in nitrogen concentration without accounting for a concurrent decrease in the phosphate ratio will affect the endangered species more severely and lead them to instant disappearance.

“Many endangered species in EU occur in areas with low phosphate concentrations,” explained Schrader. When the nitrogen ratio decreases as a response to an efficient environmental-policy, the relative phosphorus concentration increases. This leads the threatened species under more environmental pressure and boosts the disappearing of species.

Endangered species need better protection because these species are more sensitive to nutrient concentration and change in concurrent concentration of relative nutrients.

Source: Joseph et al 2020.

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