Human alteration of the global nitrogen and phosphorus soil balances for the period 1970–2050



[1] The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment scenarios for 2000 to 2050 describe contrasting future developments in agricultural land use under changing climate. Differences are related to the total crop and livestock production and the efficiency of nutrient use in agriculture. The scenarios with a reactive approach to environmental problems show increases in agricultural N and P soil balances in all developing countries. In the scenarios with a proactive attitude, N balances decrease and P balances show no change or a slight increase. In Europe and North America, the N balance will decline in all scenarios, most strongly in the environment-oriented scenarios; the P balance declines (proactive) or increases slowly (reactive approach). Even with rapidly increasing agricultural efficiency, the global N balance, ammonia, leaching and denitrification loss will not decrease from their current levels even in the most optimistic scenario. Soil P depletion seems to be a major problem in large parts of the global grassland area.