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Water in the News

March 21, 2014

Doubling down on water conservation practices

Water supplies across the U.S. are being drained at an unprecedented rate. Decades of dramatic population shifts into states with low precipitation set the stage. The trend away from a rotation of corn, wheat and sorghum in the Great Plains and the Texas Panhandle to corn accelerated aquifer-fed irrigation. The Keystone XL’s proposed path atop of the Ogallala Aquifer, along with the use of water in hydraulic fracking and biofuels production in other areas, has added to water pressures. These factors, combined with reoccurring incursions of drought into water-wealthy regions of the U.S., are raising the stakes.

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Bioenergy crops enhance watershed

CenUSA Bioenergy, a multistate USDA-sponsored research project, is using perennial bioenergy crops in the Midwest to lessen hypoxic concerns in the Gulf of Mexico. As one idea, CenUSA Bioenergy has released a seven-minute video on the topic of enhancing the Mississippi River watershed with perennial bioenergy crops. Perennial grasses, once common in the Midwest, can help reduce sediment, phosphorus and nitrogen fertilizer runoff by as much as 90 percent compared to row crops.

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1st interstate credits for water trading sold
Environmental Leader

Duke Energy, Hoosier Energy and American Electric Power are the first buyers in the interstate credits for water nutrients in the United States pilot program. The Electric Power Research Institute on March 11 officially launched water quality pilot trades in the Ohio River Basin. The program tests water quality improvement strategies in the world’s largest and only interstate water quality trading program. Water quality trading is a market-based approach that could enable facilities to meet permit limits using nutrient reduction credits from farmers who implement conservation practices, EPRI says.

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No-till vs. strip-till
Ag Professional

No-till has been largely successful at reducing soil loss from erosion. It also has proven to be better at retaining moisture by improving infiltration and reducing evaporation. In high-yielding environments, continuous high-residue levels limit adoption of no-till. Most producers apply nitrogen in the fall as anhydrous ammonia. The strip-till implement provides an opportunity to retain a large amount of residue, while still clearing a path for planting and putting down more than half of the annual nitrogen requirement for corn.

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Midwest soil still not over 2-year drought
Souteast Farm Press

A University of Missouri researcher says that soil in the Midwest has not recovered from the recent two-year drought despite significant precipitation this winter. Randall Miles, an associate professor of soil science at the MU School of Natural Resources, says the inadequate soil is hurting farmers.

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