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Did you know that hundreds of millions of pounds of nitrogen and phosphorus are lost from Illinois farm fields every year and travel down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico? These nutrients, which are necessary to grow crops, are associated with problems like excessive algae growth in receiving waters. These nutrient losses have resulted in the development of state nutrient loss reduction strategies by the twelve states that drain the most water into the Mississippi River. Illinois contributes more nitrogen and phosphorus downstream than any other state, which means we have the most opportunity to improve through our implementation of better farming and management practices.
As part of the University of Illinois “Water Team” dealing with nutrient losses, my role is to conduct scientific research on how water and nutrients move through agricultural fields and how practices can be implemented to effectively reduce the amount of nutrients leaving the field. I then help get these research findings into the hands of those that can put them to use. Farmers, agribusinesses, commodity groups, conservation staff, and research and extension personnel all play a role in helping farmers maintain effective farming operations, while reducing the nutrient losses into surface water systems.
Good stewardship of our natural resources is good business and good policy; conservation, and productive, thriving farms go hand in hand. If you want to learn more, join our chat on Twitter from 8 to 9 a.m. on Tuesday, September 27. We want to hear your questions - use #askACES during that hour on Sept. 27 on Twitter to get in on the conversation or watch it unfold here. Talk to you soon!