Farmers are getting a bad rap on that "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the National Corn Growers Association. The group says farmers are better users of crop nutrients as stewards of land air and water. The response comes after a government action plan on the issue was released Monday.
The plan, released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, builds upon a 2001 plan. The new approach adds more accountability through an Annual Operating Plan, according to an EPA release. The plan also calls for state, and federal, nutrient reduction strategies.
NCGA notes that the contribution of urban and suburban sources, including lawns and industrial discharges, are being underestimated and remain overlooked as another source for controlling the problem. Midwestern farmers have continued to conserve land, restore and enhance wetlands, practice better nutrient management and apply conservation techniques to more acreage, the group notes.
The Fertilizer Institute reports that aggregate nutrient use in corn production is down 10% between 1980 and 2005.
NCGA notes that among the signs of progress outlined in the report, conservation tillage/residue management practices were voluntarily applied by farmers to 20.8 million acres and nutrient management applied to 18.3 million acres in the basin during fiscal years 2000–2006. A total of 42.8 million acres of conservation tillage, nutrient management, wetland, and conservation tillage practices were applied, not counting additional areas impacted by wetland and buffer practices.