Authors detail Lake Erie algal blooms causes

June 8, 2015

LENEXA, Kan. — One source could be new technology related to more efficient food production.

LENEXA, Kan. — In the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation’s March/April issue, a feature documents several theories about the case of increasing soluble phosphorus (SP) in Lake Erie, according to

Twenty-five possible causes were highlighted, excluding urban and suburban reasons, noted the article.

One source could be new technology related to more efficient food production, stated the article. An increase in no till practices is one possibility since it creates soil structure and worm channels that could encourage the movement of SP to tile lines. SP could also have increased due to growth in tile drainage.

Environmental changes were also explored, reported the article. Spring storms transmit more phosphorus to the lake during springtime. Wildlife like zebra mussels also excrete phosphorus. Upstream sediment has also declined, causing an increase in phosphorus-saturated bank erosion.

Economic drivers of the issue include less diverse cropping systems that need more nutrients, shared the article. More corn has also been planted, which requires many nutrients. Fertilization was noted as another theory.

The article also mentions that soil tests and analyses are out of date and often misread. Misconceptions about phosphorus loss also exist.

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