Phosphorus is an abundant element which is vital for life. Its energetic reactivity makes it excellent for energy storage and for fuelling the metabolism in plants and animals. One place that phosphorus can be found is in the heads of non-safety type matches, where it reacts with oxygen in air to produce the bright yellow flame that you see when you strike the match on a box corner.
Phosphorus is found in all living things, but in the earth’s, crust is only present at a concentration of roughly 0.1%. Due to this scarcity, phosphorus must be drawn from phosphate compounds (such as rock phosphate) and mined. Phosphate can be used in agricultural systems as well as gardens to improve soil fertility and crop yields by increasing microorganism activity or strengthening plant cell walls.
Phosphorus is a key nutrient for plant growth. When plants absorb phosphate, it becomes mobile in the form of phosphate and enters the plant's root system. Once inside a plant phosphorus is mobile in the form of phosphate, then moves to other parts of the plant through vascular tissue.
The deficiency of phosphorus first affects the roots, but subsequently shows in the whole plant. Plant growth slows down because the plant becomes weak and susceptible to pests and diseases. Leaves can turn a bluish-green colour and the leaf stems (petioles) sometimes turn purple. Dead blotches may appear on lower leaves. The ends possibly turn brown, and they will eventually wither and drop off.