Tuesday, April 17, 7:00pm, Lovejoy 100
Dr. Jen Tank, Galla Professor of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame
Excess nutrient runoff from agricultural fields can enter nearby streams and rivers, harming sensitive species, contaminating water supplies, and fueling downstream algal blooms and low-oxygen “dead zones”. Our research examines the benefit of two conservation strategies that potentially prevent excess nutrients from being transported to downstream ecosystems: one practice implemented in waterways combined with one applied to the surrounding landscape. We have paired the restoration of floodplains in formerly channelized ditches with the planting winter cover crops in agricultural fields and are quantifying their potential to reduce runoff of excess fertilizer nutrients into agricultural streams, especially during vulnerable periods in winter and spring. Together, we predict these practices will reduce nitrogen and phosphorus headed for sensitive coastal systems that are vulnerable to algal blooms and subsequent hypoxic zones.