On July 31, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) released information on its Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative. During the last 4 years, NRCS has devoted $341 million to 640 small priority watersheds in the Mississippi River Basin. With financial and technical assistance from NRCS, farmers have built conservation practices on 356,127 ha (880,000 ac) as part of the initiative.

To reduce nutrient pollution, NRCS promotes such conservation practices as nutrient management, conservation tillage, cover crops, wetland restoration, and tailwater recovery systems. Measures like these have reduced sediment by 55%, nitrogen by 34%, and phosphorus by 46%, NRCS estimates. According to the agency, approaches that target watersheds with the greatest need have enhanced the per-acre nutrient and sediment removal benefits of conservation practices by 150%.

NRCS has also devoted $1.8 million to improving edge-of-field monitoring to better track progress and improve the efficiency of conservation systems. Read more about the program and find reports by basin segment.