Perennial grasses help reduce pollution to Gulf of Mexico

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CenUSA Bioenergy recently released a video pertaining to the topic of enhancing the Mississippi River watershed with perennial bioenergy crops. Perennial grasses, once common throughout the Midwest, have been shown to reduce sediment and phosphorus and nitrogen fertilizer runoff by as much as 90 percent compared to row crops. CenUSA Bioenergy, a multi-state USDA sponsored research project, is focusing on the use of perennial bioenergy crops in the Midwest.

The Gulf of Mexico’s hypoxic zone, also known as the “dead zone” occurs when the dissolved oxygen in ocean waters drops dangerously below the level that is needed to maintain aquatic life. It is caused by large quantities of nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen) in the water, caused primarily by run-off from row crop agriculture in the Midwest. The presence of excess nutrients in the Gulf of Mexico has been rapidly increasing, corresponding to the change from grasslands to cropland, causing the formation of the Gulf of Mexico’s hypoxic zone.

The video, “Enhancing the Mississippi River Watershed with Perennial Bioenergy Crops.” features interviews with Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture; Nancy Stoner, Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water at the EPA; Ken Moore, CenUSA Bioenergy Project Director and Professor of Agronomy, Iowa State University; and co-project directors, Cathy Kling (Professor, Economics, Iowa State University) and Jason Hill (Assistant Professor of Bioproducts and Biosystems engineering University of Minnesota). The video can be viewed here:

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