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Agronomy Society welcomes USDA Mississippi River Basin Initiative

MADISON, WI, SEPTEMBER 25, 2009 The American Society of Agronomy (ASA) strongly supports the initiative announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to improve water quality in the Mississippi River Basin. The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will implement this voluntary, incentive-based program.

"Clean water and profitable crop production are possible with deployment of crop production practices that have been developed by ASA members. The initiative will enable growers to put conservation practices into place on more acres. Our Certified Crop Advisers look forward to being able to work with producers to put the most appropriate practices into place for each field. Cleaner water and more sustainable production programs will result from this initiative," says ASA President Mark Alley, Virginia Tech.

The USDAs Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative provides a $320 million investment over four years to support programs in 12 states: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin to help farmers voluntarily implement conservation practices which avoid, control, and trap nutrient runoff, improve wildlife habitat, and maintain agricultural productivity.

According to Alley, agricultural researchers are committed to developing sustainable conservation practices to decrease soil erosion and nutrient runoff. ASAs Certified Crop Advisers are uniquely qualified to provide nutrient management recommendations to farmers.

The goal of the USDA initiative is to target resources in those watersheds that could have the largest impact on improving water quality in the basin and the Gulf of Mexico. The program will be implemented by USDA-NRCS using funding from the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative and other Farm Bill Conservation Title programs.

The causes of and solutions to the Gulf of Mexicos hypoxia zone/dead zone in the Mississippi River basin will be discussed at the ASA Annual Meeting, Nov. 1-5 in Pittsburgh. Events include a presentation by Clifford Snyder, International Plant Nutrition Institute on Nov. 2, and a lecture by Duke Universitys Curtis Richardson on Nov. 3. For more information on these lectures or other presentations about hypoxia, please visit or call 608-268-4948 or email


Contact: Sara Uttech
American Society of Agronomy

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