Study Identifies Opportunities for Nitrogen Reduction in Agriculture

A pioneering study by the University of Vermont on U.S nitrogen use in agriculture has identified 20 places across the country where farmers, government, and citizens should target nitrogen reduction efforts. The study, published in Environmental Research Letters, located “hotspots of opportunity” that represent 63% of the total surplus nitrogen balance in U.S. croplands although they constitute only 24% of U.S. cropland area. The top-ranked hotspot to target, based on total excess nitrogen, is a 61-county area across Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and Wisconsin. That’s followed by a 55-county region in Kansas and Nebraska in second place, and 38 counties in Iowa, Minnesota, and South Dakota in third. A map illustrating the hotspot counties is available online.