Of the 12 states participating in the Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force, ten have submitted either draft or final plans to reduce nutrient runoff and reduce hypoxia in the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico. Implementation, funding, and data collection are the biggest challenges facing states in relation to the plans.

On May 21, the task force entered into a partnership with 12 land grant universities across the Mississippi River Basin that may help the organization determine states’ progress by collecting data, such as how nitrogen is used in agriculture and how it is infiltrated by the soil.

This agreement marks the first time the task force is partnering with non-governmental entities. The universities include Purdue University, University of Illinois, University of Arkansas, University of Kentucky, Mississippi State University, Ohio State University, University of Tennessee, University of Missouri, University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin, Iowa State University, and Louisiana State University. The universities already are conducting research on issues like soil conservation, water quality, and nutrient transport. University scientists and policy experts are working to put this science into practice by providing educational programs for farmers, local businesses, and conservation and watershed management professionals.