Soil nutrients affected by continued drought

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Crop fields and pastures may become more difficult to maintain due to decreasing moisture levels resulting in more arid climates.

A study published in Nature shows soil nutrients in drier regions will change, making it more difficult to grow plants. The imbalance of 17 key nutrients, including nitrogen and phosphorus will affect about one-fifth of the world’s population according to

The statistical model created in the study shows higher phosphorus levels and lower nitrogen levels as a region becomes more arid. Co-author Matthew Bowker, assistant professor of forest soils and ecosystem ecology at Northern Arizona University explained the relationship between the nutrients.

"Both are essential for plant growth, and both are typical components of fertilizer, but both need to be around in the right quantities for plant growth to proceed most efficiently," Bowker said.

Farmers and ranchers living in drylands will see resources further restrained and the potential for dust storms could magnify.

"We can probably expect more and more dust in the air," Bowker said.

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