Cover Crops Look to be Changing Runoff Dynamics in Kansas

photo: agricultural runoff. Cover Crops Look to be changing Runoff Dynamics in Kansas

This spring and summer have been exciting months at the Kansas Agricultural Watershed (KAW) Field Research Facility. Nathan Nelson, Professor of Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management at Kansas State University, and his team have been busy measuring runoff and water quality to determine how different agricultural conditions impact phosphorus (P) loss.

In Kansas, fall broadcast P fertilizer application is common due its low-cost and the workload efficiency it provides. However,


Plan to protect Lake Erie from algae blooms isn’t working, study shows

Plan to protect Lake Erie from algae blooms isn't working, study shows

Farm runoff provides fertilizer that turbo-charges algae growth in the western Lake Erie basin. Wochit (Photo: Brenda Culler, Ohio Department of Natural Resources.)

Miles of green, mucky and potentially toxic algae blooms on western Lake Erie — and the oxygen-deprived dead zones in the Great Lake that come with them — have led Ohio to spend more than $3 billion to combat them since 2011. Michigan has chipped in millions


Can a Wetland Help a Farm? Ask These Family Farmers

Can a Wetland Help a Farm?

The Mackinaw River on Franklin Demonstration Farm in central Illinois. Photo © Cristina Rutter for The Nature Conservancy

In the heart of the Midwest’s Corn Belt, a family farm is experimenting with ways to keep its nearby rivers clean. On a farm in the heart of Illinois, nearly a decade and a half of experiments are unfolding.

For six generations, the land’s owners, the Franklin family, have farmed their 250 … [more…]

Attack of the Killer Algae

Attack of the Killer Algae

Photo: Algal bloom on Lake Erie

A roving pack of journalists shake off the rain in a squat, one-story federal building in Oak Harbor, Ohio. Hosting us journalists is a troop from the US Department of Agriculture. Beyond working with farmers, most are farmers themselves. But unlike many of their agricultural colleagues, these men embrace the kind of wholesale change needed to save Lake Erie.

Existing conservation efforts consist of … [more…]

U.S. rivers are getting saltier, potentially compromising drinking water

U.S. rivers are getting saltier, potentially compromising drinking water

photo: Allison Cekala

The bomb cyclone that hit the northeastern United States last week left roadways and vehicles caked in a white film of road salt and grime. Those salts might be washing into the region’s fresh waterways, a new study reveals.

A 50-year-long analysis of hundreds of U.S. Geological Survey monitoring sites finds salts in freshwater rivers and streams are rising across much of the nation. That could mean