Researchers explore soil erosion nutrient runoff in Illinois waterways

URBANA, Ill. - A team of Agroecosystem Sustainability Center (ASC) scientists was awarded a grant from the Illinois Nutrient Research and Education Council to quantify streambank erosion across the state and its contributions to phosphorus (P) loading of surface waters.

Researchers will develop estimates of non-agricultural sources of P that leach into the Mississippi River, clarifying agricultural P contributions. The study will provide much-needed information for a 2025 milestone in the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy, the state’s plan to reduce P losses to the Mississippi River and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico.

Currently, the Illinois NLRS does not account for phosphorus from eroding streambanks, thereby incorrectly “counting” this nutrient load as an agricultural loss. Quantifying it will improve understanding of P loss sources from Illinois to the Mississippi River, and it should improve allocation of resources for nutrient loss mitigation.

Read more from the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE)