Phosphorus cycling in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems (3 ECTS) – June 2017

Last changed: 15 March 2017

Course organizer Carin Sjöstedt

Phosphorus is an important macronutrient for plant growth, and careful soil management is needed as it is a limited non-renewable resource. If current management is maintained, some researchers have claimed that we will run out of high-quality mineable phosphorus resources in approximately 50-100 years. At the same time, phosphorus is also a pollutant especially in surface water, causing eutrophication. However, little is known on the drivers that influence phosphorus cycling in various ecosystems. For these reasons, much current research is devoted to how to optimize the use of phosphorus and how to reduce losses to the aquatic ecosystem. Soil management systems need to have an adequate supply of phosphorus for plant growth – at the same time, they should not give rise to unacceptably high phosphorus losses to surface waters. Both plant availability and the risk for leaching depend on phosphorus speciation. New state-of-the-art techniques have emerged that permit us to evaluate phosphorus speciation in detail such as XANES spectroscopy, organic phosphorus forms can be studied with NMR spectroscopy and radioisotope techniques can be used to estimate plant availability. Furthermore, hydrological modelling of phosphorus is done at various spatio-temporal scales (small catchments, regions and the whole Baltic Sea) to evaluate both point and diffuse sources, and to develop mitigation options to counteract eutrophication. Another important research area is sewage treatment plants and how to recycle the phosphorus in the sludge back to the environment without the presence of potential toxins in the sludge.

The aim of this course is to (i) provide basic knowledge on phosphorus cycling in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, (ii) present state-of-the art techniques for phosphorus speciation in soils, (iii) assess sewage treatment plants and possibilities to recycle phosphorus in a sustainable way and (iv) evaluate current mitigation options minimizing eutrophication.

Target group and prerequisites

This course is primarily intended for PhD students who participate in the Focus on Soils & Water graduate school, but it is also open to other PhD students working in related research areas. PhD students should have basic knowledge in soil and/or aquatic sciences.


The course consists of two parts:

1)       Two-day basic course (Monday afternoon-Wednesday morning 12-14th of June 2017) on phosphorus cycling followed by a

2)       Two- day workshop with participation of internationally leading scientists in this research area (Wednesday afternoon-Friday morning 14th- 16th of June 2017).

More detailed information on timetable will be circulated in due course. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions regarding the course.

Deadline for registration 29th of May 2017.
Register via email to course organizer Carin Sjöstedt  

Please do not hesitate to contact Carin if you have questions regarding course content


Time: 12th – 16th of June 2017