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Dead ZonesThe Loss of Oxygen from Rivers, Lakes, Seas, and the Ocean$
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David L. Kirchman

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780197520376

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780197520376.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 16 September 2021

Giving the Land a Kick

Giving the Land a Kick

(p.72) 5 Giving the Land a Kick
Dead Zones

David L. Kirchman

Oxford University Press

When it became clear that nutrients cause the rise of dead zones, scientists next examined the possible sources of the nutrients. This chapter argues the biggest source today is agriculture. The expansion of the Gulf of Mexico dead zone directly follows the huge increase in agricultural productivity, especially for corn. Yields increased over six times since 1930 in part because farmers used more fertilizer, “to give the land a kick.” As the chapter explains, Nancy Rabalais and Gene Turner found a direct link between fertilizer use and nutrient levels in the Mississippi River. In spite of opposition from agribusinesses, their work led to the formation of a White House committee and passage of legislation to support work on the hypoxia problem. Agriculture is also the main source of nutrients feeding dead zones in other regions of the world. The chapter later points out that the biggest user of fertilizer is now China, where excessive nutrients have caused massive harmful algal blooms and other environmental problems.

Keywords:   nutrient pollution, fertilizer nutrients, manure, China pollution, nitrate

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