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Welcome to the web home for Field, Lab, Earth, the podcast from the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America. The podcast all about past and present advances in agronomic, crop, soil, and environmental sciences, our show features timely interviews with our authors about research in these fields.

Field, Lab, Earth releases on the third Friday of each month in addition to the occasional bonus episode. If you enjoy our show, please be sure to tell your friends and rate and review. If you have a topic, author, or paper you would like featured or have other feedback, please contact us on Twitter @fieldlabearth or use the email icon below. You can join our newsletter to receive notifications about new episodes and related resources here.

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Sep 20, 2019

“Celebrating the 350th Anniversary of Phosphorus Discovery: A Conundrum of Deficiency and Excess” with Drs. Andrew Sharpley, Helen Jarvie, Don Flaten, and Peter Kleinman.

350 years ago, German alchemist Hennig Brandt accidentally discovered phosphorus during his quest to find the philosopher’s stone. As it turns out, phosphorus can’t turn base metals into gold, but it is one of the most important elements for sustaining life on earth. Join us for this episode as we discuss the discovery of phosphorus, its uses, how we harvest it, and interesting facts about its storied past.

Listen to find answers to questions such as:

  • How was phosphorus originally discovered?
  • Why was it called the “Devil’s Element”?
  • What do urine, guano, and human bones have to do with mining phosphorus methods?
  • How can we efficiently and wisely manage phosphorus today?

If you would like more information about this topic, this episode’s paper is freely available here: 

This article is always freely available.

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Contact us at or on Twitter @FieldLabEarth if you have comments, questions, or suggestions for show topics, and if you want more content like this don’t forget to subscribe.

If you would like to reach out to Andrew, you can find him here:

If you would like to reach out to Don, you can find him here:
Twitter: @donflaten1

If you would like to reach out to Helen, you can find her here:

If you would like to reach out to Peter, you can find him here:


CEU Quiz: 

JEQ Special Section:

Phosphorus Week Blogs

“The Discovery and General Uses of Phosphorus” by Andrew Sharpley:

“Why is Phosphorus Needed on Farms?” by Peter Kleinman:

“What are the Sources of Phosphorus for Crops?” by Don Flaten:

“What are the Challenges Regarding Phosphorus Use?” by Helen Jarvie:

“Ten Things We All Can Do to Manage Phosphorus Better” by Don Flaten:

4R Nutrient Stewardship from The Fertilizer Institute:


4R Plus:

Discovery farms:

Field, Lab, Earth is copyrighted to the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America.