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Without major shifts in the global use of phosphorus (P) towards greater sustainability and efficiency there will soon be drastic decreases in its availability. The consequences of a worldwide limited supply of P are already being felt, in particular as dramatic increases in the price of P-based fertilizers. Together with a partially limited availability and the improper use of P inventories in soils, this can, in the long-term, jeopardize supplies of food to the world population and raw materials to the economy. Furthermore, inefficient P use may have significant environmental impacts: the entry of large amounts of unused phosphorus into matter cycles, for example via agricultural runoff, can lead to an over-fertilisation that disrupts the balance of the entire system. Consequently, strategies are urgently needed that through the efficient use of P will minimise the rapid depletion of P stores and close matter cycles.