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Jim Meade / Iowa City
Senior Advisor

Farm Runoff Blamed For Algae Bloom

There seems to be a continual barrage of medea and interest group coverage of alleged farm runoff to the point where we'll be guilty until proven innocent and subject to restrictions whether or not warranted.  

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/report-polluted-farm-runoff-linked-to-toxic-gr...

 

"Toxic algae is the byproduct of the same types of pollution that causes dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico and the Chesapeake Bay — phosphorous and nitrogen from livestock manure and chemicals sprayed on crops such as corn that spills from farms into assorted waterways during moderate to heavy rains."

 

"The report, “Toxic Algae: Coming Soon to a Lake Near You?”, was released Tuesday by the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Center, an environmental nonprofit group, and Resource Media, a nonprofit public relations organization, to raise national awareness of the problem."

 

"The report follows a federal court’s ruling ordering the EPA to fulfill its obligation under the Clean Water Act and draw up a plan to limit the flow of pollution into the Mississippi River, which feeds into the gulf."

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13 Replies
buckfarmer
Senior Contributor

Re: Farm Runoff Blamed For Algae Bloom

Had a lot of media coverage on this hear in Ohio over the last few years. Some of the lakes that had the toxic algae blooms have no farmland in the watershed. One pond was in a Columbus metro park. Farm runoff may contribute but can't be the underlying cause.
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ECIN
Senior Advisor

Re: Farm Runoff Blamed For Algae Bloom

Boy's I hate to say this - bt this is only the beginning ! Last winter I attened a meeting in Indy - one of the speakers was from the U of Maryland - EVERY ! EVERY -- farmer must send in a plan for the next year to the U of Maryland to be approved first - They can NOT put on more fert. - N  than the U of Maryland sez they can or they will be FINED - out the rear !

 

This is one reason for the Cornell study on Adapt  -N

 

Bucky - your 100 % right ! How about all the lawn care run off - from a storm ??? where do's that go ? out about doen the storm drain ---------------------------------- RIGHT to the river .

 

 I can see you boys in   Iowa being banned from appling fall N along with other states -

 

Got to Get

 

Be safe !

 

Ken

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JacobMcCandless
Senior Contributor

Re: Farm Runoff Blamed For Algae Bloom

 How about all the lawn care run off - from a storm ??? 

 

They don't put enough nitrogen on lawns to produce Algea.

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ECIN
Senior Advisor

Re: Farm Runoff Blamed For Algae Bloom

Jake - I had to do some research this morning - lol But i pulled up the Indiana State Chemist Office this morning - all Private - Commercial and Lawn Care services go's threw this Office - In Indiana there are 1,348 licensed lawn care services - some are small and some big time - My lawn Care guy is on the smaller scale - but used -- give or take 20 ton of 28 last year - and it was a very dry year here last year - so not as many apps - Now if there's 1,348 services in Indiana and lets just use 20 ton per applicator ( which is probably on the lowside ) that would be 26,960 ton of 28 % or 288,472 gallon .

My point was not the amount they use per app . but what the Gov will look at is the total amount brought , and this do's not account for the amount that home owners apply .

 

I'm not saying this is the problem - but part of the puzzel .

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JacobMcCandless
Senior Contributor

Re: Farm Runoff Blamed For Algae Bloom

If I put herbcide on something, I get real nervous if everything is dead.  Maybe there is a conflict of intrest.  It's probably on the phosphate side.  Ireland has phosphate issues.  Very funky aqua-flora that stains, but no "red algea".  Herbcide would probably kill that kind of aqua-plant.  And the place to looks like **bleep** besides.

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ECIN
Senior Advisor

Re: Farm Runoff Blamed For Algae Bloom

Morning Jake

 

No conflict of intrest on my part - I'm very opened minded -- but From what I have read - the Gov, has asked the EPA to crack down on this = Clean water act .

 

BTW Jake - do you live in Ireland ? If so what or how do's your Gov.  deal with these problems ? Would be interesting to here how others deal with there laws or regulation on fert.

 

Have a good one !

 

Ken

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JacobMcCandless
Senior Contributor

Re: Farm Runoff Blamed For Algae Bloom

I don't mean to say there is a conflict on your part.  The conflict would be in the using of phosphates and a herbcide to do a job rather than one or the other.  It would seem like this method would achieve all of the objectives.  But it is really two methods combined.  I'm objectionable to phosphates, nitrogen and herbcide on lawns.  These IMO do not achieve a "quality" result.  I don't think citizens should be exposed to these chemicals at the point blank range.

 

About Ireland, I was there for about 6 months.  The phosphates come from laundry detergent.  Interestingly they have no mildew anywhere.  The problem with phosphates in detergent is that once it is used, it must continually be used or else the machine will harbor mildew.  They provide the option of phosphate free detergent.

 

I'm not using the Country of Ireland as a model of perfection.  The government is probably responsible for most of it.  But the presence of slime mold algea does not seem to be a factor of phosphates alone.

 

I have spirolena in my stream water.  We had a "water feature" install in the front of our house.  The spirolena seemed to get into it.  But then storm water stripped the rocks and slime mold started to grow.  I can't tell you how much herbcide was sprayed into or around the water feature.  The water feature plants are boarderline.

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hardnox604008
Advisor

Re: Farm Runoff Blamed For Algae Bloom

I've seen some buffer strips come out in recent  years and sure haven't seen many go in in with high corn and bean prices.

 

I think one proactive approach would be to use some of the crop insurance subsidy money to bid whatever it takes to get near 100% coverage of buffers on all streams and open ditches.

 

That seems to me to be a very kind and gentle carrot approach, rather than de gummint using a stick. However the mentaility seems to be that if "agriculture" admits to any responsibility then horrible things will happen.

 

Agriculture has some responsibility in this.

 

 

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JacobMcCandless
Senior Contributor

Re: Farm Runoff Blamed For Algae Bloom

I have personally witnessed fertilizer being applied too close to streams.  I won't say it is a non-issue.  I had mind to call the EPA but this is somewhat spiteful.

 

The irony of all of this is the formulation of the fertilizers used.  I think well meaning people are inclined to help a lawn that is not hopeless.  I also think that home owners are people who work full-time and will not manually remove a weed species.

 

Spot treatment of  a lawn with herbicide would seem like a rational approach.  The weeds only become larger as surrounding grass dies.  This is due, in part, to the weeds invasive mechanisms.  Weeds steal from other plants.  When the plant has nothing left to give it dies.  Herbicides do effect the weeds health but also cause a release of the biological-chemicals inside the weed.  Weed will win.

 

As far as quantity goes on a lawn, it would appear to me that this data is not accurate at all in regards to total phosphate/nitrogen.  Companies may be selling the excess on the side but I have no knowledge this could be the case.

 

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