Can CRP Fix the Gulf of Mexico’s Hypoxic Zone?

At this very moment, the Mississippi River is pouring excess nitrogen and phosphorus into the Gulf of Mexico, feeding the 8th largest hypoxic zone in the world. Hypoxia is when a body of water lacks the oxygen necessary to sustain life. Any marine life in this dead area is forced to either flee or die. 

Considering the prominent role the Gulf of Mexico plays for 5 US states and 6 Mexican states, this is a serious problem. This hypoxic zone has been around for at least 35 years, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down unless serious action is taken. 

But before we can address the issue, we need to understand what’s causing it 

As we discussed in our last post, the main culprit appears to be agriculture. The Mississippi flows through some of the most prominent farmland in the country. Unfortunately, much of the land in this area has struggled with soil degradation and erosion. 

To try and compensate for the damaged soil, some farmers have increased fertilizer usage, which does nothing to reduce soil erosion, and instead, increases nutrient presence in water supplies. In other words, they simply make things worse. 

So then, what is the solution? One promising option is the establishment of native vegetation through programs like CRP. 

CRP Protects Soil and Keeps Water Clean 

By planting native vegetation through programs such as CRP, soil health can be restored. Not only does this eliminate the need for excess fertilizers, but it protects against soil runoff altogether. CRP crop such as native grasses and forbs protects soil from wind, rain, and the sun. Additionally, they have deeper root systems than traditional crop, so they don’t bleed topsoil dry 

This isn’t just good for the Gulf of Mexico, but local soil and local water supplies as a whole. 

Excess runoff and nutrient contamination has done more than create hypoxic zones like the one in the Gulf of Mexico. It has damaged ecosystems, driven off wildlife, and polluted drinking water supplies. 

Nearly half of our nation’s streams and rivers are impaired due to nutrient runoff from farmlands.  In fact, nearly a third of streams in agricultural areas have nitrate levels that exceed safety standards. 

Thankfully, CRP has proven to be very effective at combatting this. According to the USDA, CRP has reduced nitrogen runoff by 95% and phosphorus runoff by 85% since 1985. 

If you want to improve your soil’s health, protect local water supplies, and stop ecological disasters like the Gulf of Mexico’s hypoxic zone, then CRP is the answer. Looking to hire CRP contractors? FDCE can help. We provide full-service CRP solutions, handling the entire process from seed purchase to submitting the necessary documentation to the FSA.  

Best of all, thanks to CRP’s cost-share reimbursement, much of our service charge is covered by the program. 

With FDCE by your side, you can enjoy all the benefits of CRP without the hassle. Let us join you in protecting our soil and water supplies. 

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