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    Chemicals in Farm Runoff Rattle States on the Mississippi

    As the surging waters of the Mississippi pass downstream, they leave behind flooded towns and inundated lives and carry forward a brew of farm chemicals and waste that this year — given record flooding — is expected to result in the largest dead zone ever in the Gulf of Mexico.
    Volunteers sandbag a farm south of Oslo, Minn., along the flooding Red River in April.



    Dead zones have been occurring in the gulf since the 1970s, and studies show that the main culprits are nitrogen and phosphorus from crop fertilizers and animal manure in river runoff. They settle in at the mouth of the gulf and fertilize algae, which prospers and eventually starves other living things of oxygen.
    Government studies have traced a majority of those chemicals in the runoff to nine farming states, and yet today, decades after the dead zones began forming, there is still little political common ground on how to abate this perennial problem. Scientists who study dead zones predict that the affected area will increase significantly this year, breaking records for size and damage.
    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.
    The lack of formal action upstream has long been maddening to the downstream states most affected by the pollution, and the extreme flooding this year has only increased the tensions.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/03/sc....html?src=recg



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    Re: Chemicals in Farm Runoff Rattle States on the Mississippi

    Quote Originally Posted by cigaretteman View Post
    I always find it messed up how strongly they regulate point sources compared to non-point sources, given how much more pollution come from the chemicals in farm runoff and other sources. I guess it is a lot easier to regulate one pipe from a wastewater treatment plan or industrial process, but at times its kinda ridiculous when you compare it to everything getting washed in the river upstream off Ag lands, some residential area, etc.



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    Re: Chemicals in Farm Runoff Rattle States on the Mississippi

    I don't blame them, but the solution if there is any, would be very expensive. I would like more filter strips to bring back the pheasants though.



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    Re: Chemicals in Farm Runoff Rattle States on the Mississippi

    Quote Originally Posted by 2020cy View Post
    I don't blame them, but the solution if there is any, would be very expensive. I would like more filter strips to bring back the pheasants though.
    Me too. Unfortunately, I think with the price of crops, the ever increasing demand for more food, and the Gov't cutting more funding to programs like CRP, pheasants are in trouble, and in many areas there population is just going to keep going down.



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    Re: Chemicals in Farm Runoff Rattle States on the Mississippi

    An ISU Professor is quoted in that article:

    John Downing, a biogeochemist and limnologist at Iowa State University, said structural issues were also to blame. Many farms in Iowa, he said, are built on former wetlands and have drains right under the crop roots that whisk water away before soils can absorb and hold on to at least some of the fertilizer.



    Still, overapplication of fertilizers remains a key contributor, he said. “For farmers, the consequences of applying too little is much riskier than putting too much on.”
    Should be familiar to anyone who took Aquatic Ecology while an undergrad.



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    Re: Chemicals in Farm Runoff Rattle States on the Mississippi

    Wait, I thought farmers were "good stewards of the land"?



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    Re: Chemicals in Farm Runoff Rattle States on the Mississippi

    Quote Originally Posted by chuckd4735 View Post
    Wait, I thought farmers were "good stewards of the land"?
    Uh-oh



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    Re: Chemicals in Farm Runoff Rattle States on the Mississippi

    Quote Originally Posted by chuckd4735 View Post
    Wait, I thought farmers were "good stewards of the land"?
    Quote Originally Posted by 2020cy View Post
    Uh-oh
    For the most part, it is not the farmer's part. They are just operating within the regulations we have given them to provide for the demand for food and fiber.



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    Re: Chemicals in Farm Runoff Rattle States on the Mississippi

    Quote Originally Posted by RayShimley View Post
    For the most part, it is not the farmer's part. They are just operating within the regulations we have given them to provide for the demand for food and fiber.
    That's a very good point, but the thing is, for the most part, there is hardly any regulation on farming in Iowa. Your probably right, not the farmers fault. However, remember that the largest lobbying body in Iowa is the Farm Bureau, and that is a big reason why there is not much regulation...



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    Re: Chemicals in Farm Runoff Rattle States on the Mississippi

    Quote Originally Posted by chuckd4735 View Post
    That's a very good point, but the thing is, for the most part, there is hardly any regulation on farming in Iowa. Your probably right, not the farmers fault. However, remember that the largest lobbying body in Iowa is the Farm Bureau, and that is a big reason why there is not much regulation...
    I agree completely. If anyone is to blame, it is the lobbying organizations like the Farm Bureau. They have been stalling these nutrient regulations at every step of the way in our legislature. I just hesitate to actually blame the farmers who, for the most part, try and adhere to responsible practices we've laid out for them.



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    Re: Chemicals in Farm Runoff Rattle States on the Mississippi

    I've always found the pining for the pheasant a bit bizarre especially since part of it's decline has been due to an increase of the native wild turkey.



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    Re: Chemicals in Farm Runoff Rattle States on the Mississippi

    Quote Originally Posted by Iastfan112 View Post
    I've always found the pining for the pheasant a bit bizarre especially since part of it's decline has been due to an increase of the native wild turkey.
    I disagree, the demise of the pheasant has been twofold, habitat and weather. Iowa is losing millions of dollars from hunters not coming to Iowa anymore. Also great loss of recreation for resident hunters.



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    Re: Chemicals in Farm Runoff Rattle States on the Mississippi

    Quote Originally Posted by 2020cy View Post
    I disagree, the demise of the pheasant has been twofold, habitat and weather. Iowa is losing millions of dollars from hunters not coming to Iowa anymore. Also great loss of recreation for resident hunters.
    If you're worried about the money lost to out of state pheasant hunters not coming, we could always lower the price on deer hunting. Or would that not leave enough of them to be hit by cars? That is how we set the deer license limit right?


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    Re: Chemicals in Farm Runoff Rattle States on the Mississippi

    Quote Originally Posted by CloneIce View Post
    I always find it messed up how strongly they regulate point sources compared to non-point sources, given how much more pollution come from the chemicals in farm runoff and other sources. I guess it is a lot easier to regulate one pipe from a wastewater treatment plan or industrial process, but at times its kinda ridiculous when you compare it to everything getting washed in the river upstream off Ag lands, some residential area, etc.
    The problem is not all ag. In Omaha the waste water and storm water runs in the same pipes, everytime there is a big rain they dump raw sewage into the Misouri. The fix is well over 1 billion dollars and Omaha does not have the money. Chicago is worse. Now multiply that by all the old cities in the Mississippi basin.



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    Re: Chemicals in Farm Runoff Rattle States on the Mississippi

    Quote Originally Posted by NebrClone View Post
    The problem is not all ag. In Omaha the waste water and storm water runs in the same pipes, everytime there is a big rain they dump raw sewage into the Misouri. The fix is well over 1 billion dollars and Omaha does not have the money. Chicago is worse. Now multiply that by all the old cities in the Mississippi basin.
    OMG, someone has actually recognized this. This happens all over. Small towns, large towns, whatever, but it's fine when they do it.

    This may or may not be a valid argument:

    -First, if you want to place heavy restriction on fertilizer usage, go right ahead. As it stands now we can hardly supply enough grain to the end user. What do you think will happen if we cut production by 25%. It will get expensive for the consumer.

    -Second, it would cost quite a bit for a physical solution to these problems. That cost would affect everyone.


    Also, I don't find it easy to take an article seriously that uses the word "chemical" to describe fertilizers.


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