The Patrick F. Taylor Foundation awarded a $1.4 million grant to the LSU AgCenter, funding a four-year research project to reduce nutrient runoff from crop fields that contribute to the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.
The award comes days after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced the summertime low-oxygen “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico will likely grow to roughly the size of Massachusetts, a record at more than 7,800 sqaure miles.
AgCenter scientists Lisa Fultz and Brenda Tubaña will work with sugarcane crops at Keith Dugas Farms Inc. in Napoleonville and grain production at Hardwick Planting Co., in Tensas Parish, to help farmers implement practices that would lower use of nitrogen- and phosphorus-based fertilizers and pesticides while still producing successful crops.
The results of the project, which began in April, will be presented in field day workshop demonstrations, says LSU Vice President for Agriculture Bill Richardson, to encourage farmers across the state to adopt technologies and practices at their farms.
Phyllis Taylor, chairman and president of the Taylor Foundation, says she wanted to supplement work LSU was already doing, as well as try to shrink the dead zone in the Gulf, which can harm the fishing and seafood industry.