The country of Morocco has 75% of the world’s supply of rock phosphate, the world’s main source of phosphorus. This means that Morocco is key to the world’s ability to grow food. This also means that the amount of phosphorus the world has is in limited supply and if we run out, the world could be doomed.

Why Watch This Video?

  1. Have you ever wondered what kind of resources the country of Morocco has?
  2. Would you like to know how phosphorus is used as a fertilizer for growing food and that every year the world is slowly running out of naturally occurring phosphorus that we can use?
  3. Have you ever been confused by the difference between phosphorus, the chemical element and phosphate rock the main source of agricultural fertilizer?

Key Terms


A chemical element that is naturally occurring in our world that is used in the making of matchheads, explosives, and fertilizers. It is a key nutrient allowing plants to convert other nutrients into usable materials for plant growth.

Phosphorite/Phosphate rock

A sedimentary rock containing high amounts of phosphate minerals. Usually found in parts of the ocean where there is not a lot of wave activity.


Reserve in the context of the video relates to the part of the resource that can be reasonably extracted or produced at the moment.

Loose Ends

Soil micro-organisms also release phosphorous

The video explains how microorganisms that contained phosphorus settled to the bottom of the ocean floor. Other microorganisms in the soil release phosphorus through solubilization and mineralization into the soil that improves crop growth and farming.

Running out of phosphorous

The video briefly discusses that the phosphorus that the world currently uses will eventually run out. That currently there is no way to reclaim phosphorus used in farming. The end of the video does explain that there are efforts being made and one possible solution, but it is not currently a working solution.

Self-Test Questions

Scroll down for the answers.

1. Phosphate rock is what kind of rock?

  1. Sedimentary rock.
  2. Metamorphic rock.
  3. Igneous rock.
  4. Stalinium.

2. Which chemical element covered in the video is used in the making of fertilizer?

  1. Phosphate.
  2. Phosphorus.
  3. Hydrogen peroxide.
  4. Sodium hypochlorite.

3. How many years does humanity have left if Morocco does not share its phosphorus reserves?

  1. 140 years
  2. 300 years
  3. Forever, just forever.
  4. Less then 100 years.

4. One way that scientists think we can recycle the amount of phosphorus we need for farming is:

  1. Burning sewage.
  2. It is never going to run out.
  3. Discovering it on other planets.
  4. Catching comets and mining them for it.


1. Answer A. Phosphate rock is a sedimentary rock that contains high amounts of phosphate minerals.

2. Answer B: Phosphorus helps plants convert other nutrients into materials that help plant growth. It is one of the three main nutrients follow in fertilizers.

3. Answer D: Less then 100 years if they did not and maybe 300 if they did share. This is because we can not replace enough phosphorus to the amount we use for farming.

4. Answer A: Scientists at the University of Minnesota are researching where burning sewage might provide a way to reclaim phosphorus from waste.

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Item Credit: Minute Earth

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