Riverine nitrogen footprint of agriculture in the Mississippi–Atchafalaya River Basin: do we trade water quality for crop production?

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2023-10-31
Authors
Zhang, Jien
Yi, Bo
Calderon, Ignacio
Miao, Ruiqing
Hennessy, David
Pan, Shufen
Tian, Hanqin
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IOP Publishing Ltd
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Lu, Chaoqun
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Feng, Hongli
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Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology

The Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology seeks to teach the studies of ecology (organisms and their environment), evolutionary theory (the origin and interrelationships of organisms), and organismal biology (the structure, function, and biodiversity of organisms). In doing this, it offers several majors which are codirected with other departments, including biology, genetics, and environmental sciences.

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The Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology was founded in 2003 as a merger of the Department of Botany, the Department of Microbiology, and the Department of Zoology and Genetics.

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2003–present

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Economics

The Department of Economic Science was founded in 1898 to teach economic theory as a truth of industrial life, and was very much concerned with applying economics to business and industry, particularly agriculture. Between 1910 and 1967 it showed the growing influence of other social studies, such as sociology, history, and political science. Today it encompasses the majors of Agricultural Business (preparing for agricultural finance and management), Business Economics, and Economics (for advanced studies in business or economics or for careers in financing, management, insurance, etc).

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The Department of Economic Science was founded in 1898 under the Division of Industrial Science (later College of Liberal Arts and Sciences); it became co-directed by the Division of Agriculture in 1919. In 1910 it became the Department of Economics and Political Science. In 1913 it became the Department of Applied Economics and Social Science; in 1924 it became the Department of Economics, History, and Sociology; in 1931 it became the Department of Economics and Sociology. In 1967 it became the Department of Economics, and in 2007 it became co-directed by the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Business.

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1898–present

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  • Department of Economic Science (1898–1910)
  • Department of Economics and Political Science (1910-1913)
  • Department of Applied Economics and Social Science (1913–1924)
  • Department of Economics, History and Sociology (1924–1931)
  • Department of Economics and Sociology (1931–1967)

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Abstract
Increasing food and biofuel demands have led to the cascading effects from cropland expansions, raised fertilizer use, to increased riverine nitrogen (N) loads. However, little is known about the current trade-off between riverine N pollution and crop production due to the lack of predictive understanding of ecological processes across the land-aquatic continuum. Here, we propose a riverine N footprint (RNF) concept to quantify how N loads change along with per unit crop production gain. Using data synthesis and a well-calibrated hydro-ecological model, we find that the RNF within the Mississippi–Atchafalaya River Basin peaked at 1.95 g N kg−1 grain during the 1990s, and then shifted from an increasing to a decreasing trend, reaching 0.65 g N kg−1 grain in the 2010s. This implies decoupled responses of crop production and N loads to key agricultural activities approximately after 2000, but this pattern varies considerably among sub-basins. Our study highlights the importance of developing a food–energy–water nexus indicator to examine the region-specific trade-offs between crop production and land-to-aquatic N loads for achieving nutrient mitigation goals while sustaining economic gains.
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This letter is published as Lu, Chaoqun, Jien Zhang, Bo Yi, Ignacio Calderon, Hongli Feng, Ruiqing Miao, David Hennessy, Shufen Pan, and Hanqin Tian. "Riverine nitrogen footprint of agriculture in the Mississippi–Atchafalaya River Basin: do we trade water quality for crop production?." Environmental Research Letters 18, no. 11 (2023): 114043. doi:10.1093/biolre/ioad146. © 2023 The Author(s). Posted with permission.

Original content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence. Any further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation and DOI.
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