Report: Mississippi Nutrients Down

8/31/2013 7:00 AM

WASHINGTON — The USDA has released a new report that shows farmers have significantly reduced the loss of sediment and nutrients from farm fields through voluntary conservation work in the lower Mississippi River basin.

The report, released by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service this week, marks the completion of a watershedwide assessment of conservation efforts in the Mississippi River watershed.

Its findings demonstrate that conservation work, such as controlling erosion and managing nutrients, has reduced the edge-of-field losses of sediment by 35 percent, nitrogen by 21 percent and phosphorous by 52 percent.

“Farmers and ranchers work hard to conserve the land and water, and today’s report shows the tremendous impact they’ve had for the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We need to keep up the momentum by providing scientific and technical expertise that supports conservation in agriculture.”

While the report shows the positive impacts of conservation, it also signals the need for additional conservation work.

Model simulations show that an increase in cover crops would have a significant effect on reducing edge-of-field losses of sediment and nutrients, and improve water quality.

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