Thursday, June 14, 2012

What does corn have to do with Dead zone?

Corn is the foremost source of nitrogen and also phosphorous related to dead zone of the Gulf of Mexico. The corn contributes 52% of nitrogen and 25% of phosphorous that are the major pollution components of the dead zones. The urge of growing corn aroused from it being a very good source for ethanol that’s used as a biofuel. The problem is not in the increasing growing of corn, but it’s in the corn farming. Corn receives 40% of the total fertilizers given to croplands in the US even though it is planted in less than 23% of the cropland. As a result for that, so many amounts of nitrogen and phosphorous are being washed away by the rain and melting ice and getting into the ground and to water surfaces.

Now what could be done to decrease the risks of growing corn? Stop planting it?

Maybe yes, but it wouldn’t be reasonable solution! The U.S. department of Agriculture states that most farmlands need to plant a winter cover crop that would benefit in preventing erosion and providing fertilizers for the next year’s crop. Another solution would be stop feeding the remainings of the corn after processing it into ethanol (proteins and nutrients) to animals. The material remaining is concentrated of phosphorous and if the animals’ waste is used as a fertilizer, it would increase phosphorus contamination in surface waters. So, be careful what you give to your livestock. A final solution would be using other sources for biofuels to make the urge of planting corn much less. These sources could be perennial grass and wood waste.

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