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Land-Grant Universities Partner with Hypoxia Task Force
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 07/08/2014

Scientists from land-grant universities in 12 central U.S. states have entered into a partnership with the Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Hypoxia Task Force to support state and national efforts to reduce water pollution and help to maintain the productivity and vitality of American agriculture. The participating land-grant universities include the University of Wisconsin, along with the University of Arkansas, University of Illinois, Iowa State University, University of Kentucky, Louisiana State University, University of Minnesota, Mississippi State University, University of Missouri, Ohio State University, Purdue University, and University of Tennessee.

"This collaboration between land-grant universities and the Task Force will continue to promote effective implementation of science-based approaches to nutrient management. Our efforts will help farmers reduce nutrient losses to the environment," said Wes Burger, Mississippi State University Agricultural Experiment Station associate director and professor of Wildlife Ecology and Management. "Nutrient management is imperative for sustainable agricultural activity and environmental quality."

Run-off from non-point sources is a primary contributor of excess nutrients that impair freshwater bodies and cause hypoxia, or low oxygen levels, in the northern Gulf of Mexico. While land-grant scientists and extension educators have been helping farmers, ranchers, state and federal agencies, and others with nutrient management practices and policies within their respective states for decades, a partnership with the Task Force will help scientists share their knowledge about emerging technologies and research developments across state lines.

"We need clean water. We need the food, fiber and fuel produced on our farms. Land-grant universities, with our extension and research resources, can help farmers, state and federal agencies, and others keep local water safe, reduce the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico, and keep our farms working. Our agreement with the Hypoxia Task Force promises to make land-grant research and outreach programs in this arena even more productive," said Rebecca Power, the director of the North Central Region Water Network and Water Outreach program manager of the University of Wisconsin.

Nearly 80-percent of all U.S. corn and soybeans as well as a large percentage of U.S. pork are produced in the Mississippi River basin states. However, nutrient pollution costs Americans billions of dollars each year. Land-grant universities are committed to working with the Task Force and other partners towards cleaner water and a healthy agricultural economy for future generations.

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