For the Bay: Chesapeake Nutrient Imbalance Must Be Addressed

Publication: Penn State Live

01/18/2011 - University Park, Pa. -- The problem plaguing the Chesapeake Bay is widely known and obvious, according to a crops and soils expert in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences. But after decades of trying to save the famous estuary by spending billions of dollars on pollution-control measures, we have made a lot of progress but we still have a long way to go to solve the problem.

The bay watershed is out of balance, noted Doug Beegle, distinguished professor of agronomy. Simple to say, easy to see -- devilishly difficult to fix in today's world. And while agriculture is not entirely to blame -- excess nutrients also are coming from sewage-treatment plants and urban runoff -- about half of the problem involves farm fields and agricultural facilities.

Simply put, too many nutrients are brought into the Chesapeake drainage in the form of grain from places like the Midwest to feed cattle, pigs and poultry in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. The animals convert only about a quarter of the nutrients in the grain into meat, milk and eggs, and the remainder -- in the form of nitrogen and phosphorous in manure -- doesn't leave the watershed.

Read the full article For the Bay: Chesapeake Nutrient Imbalance Must Be Addressed on the Pennsylvania State University's Web site.

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