Tackling Nitrogen Pollution
August 9, 2010 | By Dominique in People Making a Difference
EDF is doing a great deal of work in partnership with farmers around the country to develop solutions to nitrogen pollution. Working with the Iowa Soybean Association, we created a rapidly growing initiative that helps farmers use nitrogen much more efficiently.
Infographic: How to Revive America’s Rivers and Agriculture. View full size »
We’ve partnered with almost 800 farmers in Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, North Carolina, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia, to help them assess the amount of nitrogen they need to use—and to reduce run-off of excess fertilizers. The program has recently expanded to Minnesota, Missouri, and Illinois. More targeted applications save the farmers money—the price of fertilizers having doubled over the last decade.
“The On-Farm Network delivers real benefits for farmers and the environment,” says EDF’s Deputy Director of the Center for Conservation Incentives, Suzy Friedman. “With so many U.S. watersheds suffering from nitrogen runoff, we need programs like this to align environmental goals with farmers’ economic interests.”
EDF is also working to help farmers understand the value of buffer zones between their fields and waterways. Rather than mow down to a river’s edge, farmers can plant trees, shrubs and grasses, whose roots will absorb nitrogen before it drains into the water. Wetlands restoration is critical to this effort as well. EDF helped persuade Congress to establish several U.S. Department of Agriculture programs that reward farmers for planting riparian buffers rather than crops. The vivid, cheerful renewal of bird and animal life at the water’s edge is its own reward.