Clinton County is making the best of a bad situation. 100 acres of former farmland that was flooded in 2008 and 2010, is being converted into wetlands and prairie. The land in near Wheatland, along the lower Wapsipinicon River. A federal grant and area groups pledged nearly $100,000 to purchase the land. Continue reading
Iowa is one of nine states along the Mississippi River implicated in contributing to what is expected to be the largest dead zone ever in the Gulf of Mexico.
The New York Times reports that phosphorous and nitrogen from fertilizers and animal waste runoff are largely to blame for the dead zones. The recent flooding along the Mississippi has exacerbated this runoff. With this impending damage to the Gulf, environmentalists are calling for stricter regulations of farms near the Mississippi:
For years, environmentalists and advocates for a cleaner gulf have been calling for federal action in the form of regulation. Since 1998, the Environmental Protection Agency has been encouraging all states to place hard and fast numerical limits on the amount of those chemicals allowed in local waterways. Yet of the nine key farm states that feed the dead zone, only two, Illinois and Indiana, have acted, and only to cover lakes, not the rivers or streams that merge into the Mississippi.
Many of the farmers along the Mississippi fear that the EPA will indeed heed the call and set chemical limits.
Don Parish, senior director of regulatory relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation, a trade group, says behind that policy is the faulty assumption that farmers fertilize too much or too casually. Since 1980, he said, farmers have increased corn yields by 80 percent while at the same time reducing their nitrate use by 4 percent through precision farming.
“We are on the razor’s edge,” Mr. Parish said. “When you get to the point where you are taking more from the soil than you are putting in, then you have to worry about productivity.” Continue reading