Pigs. Photo credit: Sam Michel. Flickr.


The competitiveness of European agri-food production relies on the efficient and sustainable use of resources. The essential element phosphorus (P) is a finite resource but is not used efficiently in agriculture yet global food demand is increasing rapidly along with population growth. The EU imports 90% of its mineral P which creates vulnerability to shocks in the global mineral P supply chain and this could jeopardise EU food security. Reaching sustainability and resilience in the P cycle will require addressing multiple aspects including changes in P-use efficiency in animals and plants, P losses from manure management and the role of micro-organisms in influencing P availability and storage in soils, all with a multidisciplinary approach. PEGaSus has been developed to tackle these issues and to strive for improving sustainability and efficiency regarding P use with an emphasis on monogastrics since pigs and chicken contribute to global food security but are major P excretors and sources of P losses.

Project aims

The strategic objective of PEGaSus is to contribute to resource-efficient and economically competitive animal production systems by; identifying strategies for increasing the bioavailability, digestibility and efficiency of plant-derived P by monogastrics so as to reduce P supplements; reducing P losses and emissions from pig and chicken husbandry targeting benefits for animal health, welfare, and the environment; developing technical, policy and governance strategies to minimise P discharges from farms, P in runoff from soil and subsequent enrichment in aquatic ecosystems.

Components of the phosphorus cycle in animal husbandry including fodder, soil, manure and phosphorus losses.