What about the nitrate runoff in the Chesapeake Bay/dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico?

Farmers in the Chesapeake Bay region are tackling water quality challenges and rising chemical fertilizer and fuel costs. In southeastern Pennsylvania, 135 farmers taking part in the On Farm Network are using tools like the end-of-season cornstalk nitrate test, aerial imagery and replicated strip trials to learn whether too little, excess, or optimal nitrogen fertilizer was applied and to fine-tune nitrogen management. Fertilizer application rates and timing, as well as conservation practices such as cover crops, are also utilized to allow farmers to conserve nitrogen.

There has also been concern for nitrate runoff creating dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico. A dead zone, according to National Geographic, is “an area usually in the bottom waters where there's not enough oxygen to sustain life. It's generally caused by algae stimulated by lots of agricultural nutrients in surface waters. When nutrients enter the water, [they] create an algal bloom. [When] the algae sink, bacteria start decomposing them, which uses up the [available] oxygen.” While there are several factors contributing to this, including climate change, farmers are working to implement multiple tools to prevent runoff, leading to dead zones. http://www.nitrogennews.com/factsheet-farm-solutions/

USFRA Point of View

Insects, weeds and plant diseases are serious threats that can devastate crops. Throughout history, farmers have found ways to manage these threats or see their livelihood – and a lot of food – destroyed. Each year farmers face tough management decisions, especially when it comes to the best route... Read more