Institute: Nitrogen reduction will take a revolution
schematic drawing of environmental system
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October 25, 2019
 

A revolution in Midwestern agriculture has to happen to minimize the Gulf of Mexico’s hypoxic zone, according to the University of Illinois Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE).

It is a little-known fact that corn — a Midwestern staple crop — has a bearing on the Gulf of Mexico’s health. The link is nitrogen, a common agricultural fertilizer component. According to a team of Illinois researchers, each annual harvest removes just 60-70% of nitrogen from fields.

“Ultimately, via the Mississippi River, the remaining nitrogen will flow into the Gulf, facilitating hypoxia (oxygen deficiency) and endangering marine life,” says Madhu Khanna, professor of agricultural and consumer economics and iSEE associate director for research. Read more.