Arkansas Department of Agriculture steers $1.7 million towards Hypoxia Task Force programs

by George Jared ([email protected]) 2,918 views 

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday (March 8) the approval of $1.7 million in funding to implement nutrient reduction related projects that support the Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force’s program.

The goal of the task force’s program is to assist states in implementing nutrient loss reduction strategies through voluntary, non-regulatory programs. The Department’s Natural Resources Division has partnered with Arkansas State University, The Nature Conservancy, and local drainage districts in Northeast Arkansas to restructure channelized ditches to allow for more natural assimilation of nutrients.

Additional benefits to local producers include reduced localized flooding and on-farm sediment loss. Ditch construction and water quality monitoring is slated as a five-year project. An additional $3.7 million will be awarded for fiscal years 2024 through 2027.

Future projects will focus on innovative, voluntary conservation practices that benefit producers and water quality.

Arkansas is one of 12 states participating in the task force working to reduce the size of a hypoxic zone, an area with reduced oxygen levels, in the Gulf of Mexico. The hypoxic zone is formed by excessive nutrients causing algae blooms and when these blooms decay, micro-bacteria consume the oxygen.

This ultimately results in an area approximately one-tenth the size of Arkansas that is unsuitable for aquatic life.