Nutrients from farms in the Mississippi River Basin are the leading cause of the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico, a 5,000- to 7,000-square mile region where declining oxygen levels threaten marine life.
This book explores ways to alleviate this problem and at the same time improve overall water quality, enhance biodiversity, improve the quality of life for the people who live and work in Corn Belt communities, and relieve downstream flooding. The book presents assessments of agricultural and ecological systems in the Mississippi River Basin along with studies of local Iowa farms and watersheds. The authors use the term "alternative futures" to describe how changes in agricultural landscapes and practices could improve the situation. The environmental footprint of Corn Belt agriculture extends beyond farmland and adjacent lakes and streams to groundwater, rivers, cities downstream, into the Gulf of Mexico, and, ultimately, into global oceanic and atmospheric systems. The economic and social implications of agricultural policies similarly extend to national and international levels.
Pressing negotiations with America's trade partners, along with renewed interest in biofuels and increasing attention to environmental effects of current agricultural policy are creating momentum for change. "From the Corn Belt to the Gulf" provides ideas to inform this urgent debate.
This groundbreaking book analyzes alternative ways to manage Corn Belt farms for improved environmental outcomes - without pushing farmers from their lands. The authors address an array of possibilities for farm and conservation policies that could translate these alternative landscapes and broader public benefits into reality. - Sandra S. Batie, Michigan State University"
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