AP: Gulf of Mexico Initiative kicks off ecosystem improvement work

AP: Gulf of Mexico Initiative kicks off ecosystem improvement work

In the wake of the catastrophic BP oil spill (well, almost 2 years back in the wake), the USDA has launched a $50M, three-year initiative to help restore water quality around the Gulf of Mexico.

This week the Associated Press published a reasonably detailed look at the project's aims. This is not primarily focused on removing oil contamination, but on a variety of work ranging from better fencing of coastal farms, reseeding native grasses, and other measures to reduce fertilizer runoff.

From the article:

Wiggins has been buying new tilling equipment to use on his 800-acre peanut and cotton farm that straddles the Alabama-Florida line. The high-tech farming equipment helps him better turn the soil and plant straighter rows, which ultimately prevent erosion and keep nutrients in the soil rather than allowing them to flow downstream and into the Gulf.

Wiggins' land sits on three watersheds — Canoe Creek and Pine Barren Creek that are part of Sandy Hollow Creek, and Little Pine Barren Creek. With the work he's already done, Wiggins estimates he has reduced erosion by at least 50 percent. Now, he wants to further reduce it, mostly through the use of new equipment that will decrease conventional, and more destructive, tillage of his land.

"I'd like to get it down to zero, but if I could get it to 10 percent conventional tillage, I would be tickled to death," Wiggins said.

The author points out that $50 million is a large amount of money, but it's to be distributed across five states.

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