Bioenergy Crops Enhance Watershed

March 7, 2014 08:51 PM
Bioenergy Crops Enhance Watershed

CenUSA Bioenergy, a multi-state 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% compared to row crops.

The Gulf of Mexico’s hypoxic zone, also known as the "dead zone," occurs when the dissolved oxygen in ocean waters drops dangerously below the level that is needed to maintain aquatic life. It is caused by large quantities of nutrients, including phosphorus and nitrogen, in the water.

The video, "Enhancing the Mississippi River Watershed with Perennial Bioenergy Crops" features interviews with Jamie Derr, a Wisconsin farmer and bioenergy pioneer; Bill Northey, Iowa secretary of agriculture; and Nancy Stoner, acting assistant administrator for the Office of Water at the Environmental Protection Agency, among others. Watch the video at

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