Is it logical to connect these two dots?
- Last fall less N was applied across the Corn Belt due to the outrageous price, poor conditions and crop planning uncertainty.
- The Gulf Dead Zone is smaller than expected.
The infamous Gulf of Mexico dead zone looks smaller than predicted this year, but scientists say the reprieve is just temporary, and barely even a reprieve. Some worry that more pollution could cause the Gulf’s ecosystem to collapse.
“We’re in a condition in the Gulf of Mexico that indicates we might be near some sort of tipping point, but you don’t really know it until it happens,” said Nancy Rabelais, director of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium.
The federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released the dead zone data Tuesday. Caused by farm fertilizer runoff that feeds algae that in turn feeds oxygen-gobbling bacteria, the dead zone has covered an area the size of New Jersey for the last several years. This year, unexpected weather patterns — rather than a drop in pollution — have cut its surface area by half. [More]
Of course, whether farmers see a connection is not nearly as important as whether regulators do.