Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Alternative farming cleans up water

24.07.2007
Minnesota researchers show cropping system biodiversity decreases agricultural pollution

Although the addition of nutrients to soil helps to maximize crop production, fertilizer can leach nutrients, polluting the water supply. A recent study by researchers at the University of Minnesota shows alternative cropping practices may help to protect the environment by reducing high nitrate levels in surface and ground water caused by conventional fertilizer use. The team of scientists reports their findings in the July-August 2007 issue of the Journal of Environmental Quality.

Nitrogen is one of the most important elements required in agricultural systems for plant and animal production. While treatment with the correct amount of nitrogen-based fertilizer optimizes crop yield and minimizes environmental damage, too much nitrogen can lead to nitrate loss.

Nitrate, a mobile form of nitrogen, escapes via water that percolates through soils. In regions where subsurface drainage is used to promote crop growth, high levels of nitrates are transported to downstream waters. Nitrate contamination of water can contribute to waters becoming hypoxic and stress aquatic life living downstream.

“The challenge facing industry, farmers, agricultural advisors, and others concerned about the environment is to develop efficient cropping systems that maintain economical production levels while minimizing surface and ground water degradation,” said Jeff Strock, lead author of the study.

In search of ways to reduce agricultural pollution, Strock and others measured tile drainage and nitrate losses under conventional and alternative cropping systems over a three-year period in southwest Minnesota. This study was funded by the USDA-CSREES-National Integrated Water Quality Program.

Researchers categorized conventional farming practices as corn-soybean rotations with inorganic fertilizer application and pesticide usage. Alternative farming practices included organic management practices that incorporated rotation of a variety of crops including corn, soybean, oat, alfalfa, buckwheat, and rye with nutrients supplied from legumes and either fresh or composted manure sources. The study found that alternative cropping systems reduced the amount of water lost in tile drainage by 41 percent compared to a conventional corn-soybean rotation. Alternative farming practices also reduced nitrate-nitrogen losses by between 59 and 62 percent in two out of three years.

“Our data suggests that water quantity and quality could be improved by increasing cropping system biodiversity,” said Strock.

Whether in conventional or organic cropping systems, Strock suggests cropping system biodiversity may be adopted as one of several practices to build a sustainable farm management system that is productive, profitable, and environmentally acceptable.

“There are no silver bullets for solving our water quality problems,” said Strock. “Instead, implementing practices such as cropping system biodiversity, along with refined nitrogen management practices, growing perennial crops in a rotation, cover cropping, and other management practices will help prevent nitrate contamination of our lakes and rivers.”

Sara Uttech | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.agronomy.org
http://jeq.scijournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/36/4/1194

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Trees and climate change: Faster growth, lighter wood
14.08.2018 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Animals and fungi enhance the performance of forests
01.08.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

Im Focus: Lining up surprising behaviors of superconductor with one of the world's strongest magnets

Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur

What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...

Im Focus: World record: Fastest 3-D tomographic images at BESSY II

The quality of materials often depends on the manufacturing process. In casting and welding, for example, the rate at which melts solidify and the resulting microstructure of the alloy is important. With metallic foams as well, it depends on exactly how the foaming process takes place. To understand these processes fully requires fast sensing capability. The fastest 3D tomographic images to date have now been achieved at the BESSY II X-ray source operated by the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin.

Dr. Francisco Garcia-Moreno and his team have designed a turntable that rotates ultra-stably about its axis at a constant rotational speed. This really depends...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

2018 Work Research Conference

25.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

'Building up' stretchable electronics to be as multipurpose as your smartphone

14.08.2018 | Information Technology

During HIV infection, antibody can block B cells from fighting pathogens

14.08.2018 | Life Sciences

First study on physical properties of giant cancer cells may inform new treatments

14.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>