Navigation Links
Crop management strategies key to a healthy Gulf, planet
Date:4/21/2008

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., April 21, 2008 Improved management of crops and perennials could go a long way toward alleviating the problem of hypoxia, which claims thousands of fish, shrimp and shellfish in the Gulf of Mexico each spring.

An assessment by a team led by Virginia Dale of Oak Ridge National Laboratorys Environmental Sciences Division concludes that low oxygen levels in water, or hypoxia, causes problems throughout the ecosystem. The death zone, scientifically documented in the Gulf since 1985, has consistently covered about 6,000 square miles, usually off the coast of Louisiana west of the Mississippi Rivers mouth.

The problem is caused in part by fertilizer run-off from agricultural activities in the Mississippi basin, which drains about 48 percent of the U.S. land. These nutrients combined with stratification caused by warm freshwater from the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers running into the colder saltwater of the Gulf sets up the deadly process. Algae grows, then dies and sinks to the bottom, where it decomposes, using up oxygen in the process.

The oxygen-depleted water at the bottom is not replenished because of the lack of circulation, Dale said. The more water that flows into the Gulf and the more nutrients in the water, the worse the hypoxia becomes.

While scientists initially believed nitrogen was the major culprit, the assessment team for the Science Advisory Board of the Environmental Protection Agency realized that phosphorus also plays a significant role. The team is recommending a 45 percent reduction in phosphorus and nitrogen from the 1980-1996 average flux during the spring (April, May and June) on a five-year running average.

The assessment team found that the most significant opportunities for nitrogen and phosphorus reduction in the Mississippi Basin are promotion of the production of environmentally sustainable biofuel and other perennial crops, improved infield management of nutrients, construction and restoration of wetlands, tighter nitrogen and phosphorus limits on municipal and industrial sources and improved targeting of riparian buffers.

Other recommendations include using cellulosic biofuels such as switchgrass and poplar hybrids, but the assessment team acknowledged that field implementation of cellulosic biofuel crops is under development. In the meantime, cellulosic ethanol is being produced from corn stover -- the cobs, leaves and stalks left in a field after harvest.

Dale is proposing research to establish landscape design that will help farmers and land management agencies determine where and how biofuel feedstocks can be grown with minimal environmental impacts.

In our report to the EPA, were recommending planting perennials, promoting environmentally sustainable biofuel production and using no-till farming as key land management strategies, Dale said. Reducing the amount of nutrients on fields and restoring wetlands are other important parts of the panels land management recommendations.

At a recent Department of Energy conference, Biomass 2008: Fueling our Future, researchers discussed multiple aspects of bioenergy crops.

Choices about what crops are grown and how they are planted, fertilized and harvested influence the effects of biofuels on native plant diversity, competition with food crops and effects on water and air quality, Dale said.

Decisions in this area also affect economic viability because the distance that biofuels must be transported has a large effect on the market cost of biofuels as well as the quality of life for those who live in communities through which the bulky fuel is transported, Dale said.

Dale and colleagues at ORNL are now focusing on watershed studies to determine what is happening between fields and the Gulf using models at different scales to interpret the data.

Understanding these intermediate layers is crucial to filtering out the noise and figuring out how to shrink the hypoxic zone, Dale said. The approach were developing considers aspects of the landscape, including environmental and socioeconomic conditions, the bioenergy features and ecological and biological feedbacks.

While water availability and quality emerges as one of the most limiting factors, the linkage between water and bioenergy choices on medium and large scales is poorly qualified, according to Dale. An approach that considers environmental and socioeconomic changes in land use and landscape dynamics provides a way to quantify the influence of alternative bioenergy choices on water quality and other components of the environment.


'/>"/>

Contact: Ron Walli
wallira@ornl.gov
865-576-0226
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Gypsy moth management made more efficient, cost-effective
2. Multiple resource management is focus of new technical report
3. Can Dungeness crab and eelgrass help improve management of our marine resources?
4. DOE JGI releases a new version of its metagenome data management and analysis system
5. Fishermen and UCSB scientists explore ways to improve management of California spiny lobsters
6. Scientists outline novel approach to ecosystem management
7. United Water, in partnership with Stevens, wins Management Innovation Award
8. Accu-Time Systems, Inc. Announces Launch of Next Generation Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions: Global Series(TM)
9. Resilience concepts poised to aid management of coastal marine ecosystems
10. RAND study finds evidence disease management programs
11. Latest Integrated Microbial Genomes data management system update release
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/16/2016)... The global Biometric ... USD 1.83 billion by 2024, according to a ... proliferation and increasing demand in commercial buildings, consumer ... the market growth.      (Logo: ... of advanced multimodal techniques for biometric authentication and ...
(Date:6/9/2016)... , June 9, 2016  Perkotek an innovation leader in attendance control systems ... seamlessly log work hours, for employers to make sure the right employees are actually ... http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160609/377486LOGO ... ... ...
(Date:6/7/2016)... , June 7, 2016  Syngrafii Inc. and ... business relationship that includes integrating Syngrafii,s patented LongPen™ ... project. This collaboration will result in greater convenience ... credit union, while maintaining existing document workflow and ... ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... 24, 2016 Epic Sciences unveiled a ... susceptible to PARP inhibitors by targeting homologous recombination ... The new test has already been incorporated into ... cancer types. Over 230 clinical trials ... pathways, including PARP, ATM, ATR, DNA-PK and WEE-1. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Mosio, a ... eBook, “Clinical Trials Patient Recruitment and Retention Tips.” Partnering with experienced clinical research ... by providing practical tips, tools, and strategies for clinical researchers. , “The landscape ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016 /PRNewswire/ - FACIT has announced the creation ... biotechnology company, Propellon Therapeutics Inc. ("Propellon" or "the ... a portfolio of first-in-class WDR5 inhibitors for the ... WDR5 represent an exciting class of therapies, possessing ... for cancer patients. Substantial advances have been achieved ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Charm Sciences, Inc. ... test has received AOAC Research Institute approval 061601. , “This is another AOAC-RI ... stated Bob Salter, Vice President of Regulatory and Industrial Affairs. “The Peel Plate ...
Breaking Biology Technology: