NOAA’s Central Region Collaboration Team recently completed two short videos on first-of-its-kind decision support information and related tools to address the challenge of nutrient runoff from farm fields. Many of the nation’s lakes and streams suffer from water quality degradation caused by excess nitrogen and phosphorus. These nutrients can eventually concentrate in coastal areas such as the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico, contribute to harmful algal blooms (HABs) and hypoxia, and result in both economic and environmental impacts.
The videos introduce Runoff Risk decision support, real-time forecast guidance focused on improving nutrient application decisions so that freshly applied nutrients are not promptly transported from fields and into streams and lakes. State-developed tools, created in collaboration with multiple state, federal, and academic partners, focus attention on nutrient application timing and encourage voluntary behavioral change as farmers incorporate the information into their short-term planning.
The demand for Runoff Risk decision support guidance is expected to grow with increasing awareness of these tools in addition to more attention focused on nutrient pollution impacts. The Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force as well as the binational Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement have called for substantial nutrient load reductions from upstream states due to the increasing severity of these ecosystem impacts. Great Lakes Restoration Initiative support is allowing expansion of this work, and Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio are expected to release Runoff Risk tools in 2017.
Videos on Runoff Risk decision support are designed to help educate the public and stakeholders on the impacts of hypoxia and HABs, and one effort to help address the sources of nutrient pollution in the nation’s water bodies. These materials are available for immediate distribution and use.