Farmers could help heal Gulf of Mexico

12:10pm, November 7, 2001

Farm-derived nutrients in the Mississippi River that create a huge dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico could be substantially reduced if farmers simply used a little less fertilizer, a new analysis suggests.

When fertilizer-fed algae blooms die and decompose, they sop up much of the oxygen available in the water and create a zone that often has too little dissolved oxygen to support most marine animals. The Gulf of Mexico's so-called hypoxic zone is an 18,000-square-kilometer region of ocean that stretches westward from the mouth of the Mississippi toward the Texas coast.

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