Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Can Hemp Help The Everglades?

Date:
August 7, 2007
Source:
Soil Science Society of America
Summary:
Within Southern Florida, soil and water conditions indicate potential for leaching from the use of atrazine-based herbicides in corn crops. Scientists conducted studies to evaluate the specific groundwater risk from atrazine use by focusing on sunn hemp which seems to have the potential to greatly reduce that risk.

Sunn hemp can be grown to prevent soil erosion, as high-protein forage, and in older plants, it can be used to make cloth, twine and rope.
Credit: Thomas Potter

Within Southern Florida, soil and water conditions indicate potential for leaching from the use of atrazine-based herbicides in corn crops. Scientists from USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and University of Florida conducted studies to evaluate the specific groundwater risk from atrazine use by focusing on a specific cover crop that seems to have the potential to greatly reduce that risk.

The crop is called sunn hemp. It's a tall, herbaceous annual that grows rapidly to a height of 6 to 7 feet.

The region's aquifer provides drinkable water for nearly all of the rapidly growing population. Agricultural practices that impair water quality may also stunt a massive project intended to restore the Florida Everglades ecosystem. Many investigations have shown that cover crops can reduce herbicide leaching; however groundwater quality has not been widely observed and the effectiveness of cover crops on water contamination has not been documented.

The studies revealed that atrazine and some of its products may seep into the groundwater and impair water quality. Climate, cropping patterns, high dilution rates, and high chemical degradation rates limited the contamination levels. Measurements also showed that cover crops significantly reduced contamination in groundwater.

The studies focused on sweet corn production and included whether fields with a highly vigorous cover crop would reduce impacts. Sunn hemp planted during uncultivated summer periods was the most focused upon. Crops such as these can be effective in reducing weeds and leaching while enriching soil. Sunn hemp can be grown to prevent soil erosion, as high-protein forage, and in older plants, it can be used to make cloth, twine, and rope.

Results of this four year study, which has support from the South Florida Water Management District, were published in the 2007 September-October issue of the Journal of Environmental Quality. Levels of atrazine and three of its products were monitored in groundwater directly beneath sweet corn plots treated annually with the herbicide. On plots maintained with the cover crop, all plant residues were chopped and turned into soil before planting the next corn crop.

Growers are encouraged to plant cover crops since there are many other potential benefits, including reduced nutrient leaching, wind erosion, and improved soil quality. To promote adoption of the practice, further research is needed to identify more cover crops that behave similar to sunn hemp and the low-cost sources of its seed. High seed cost is a limiting factor to more widespread use of this effective cover crop.

Atrazine is also used globally resulting in numerous studies that demonstrate its contamination of water supplies. Both the original compound and its subsequent products are being detected in surface water and shallow groundwater. This highlights the need to determine the extent of water risks during atrazine use and to develop conservation practices to minimize negative affects.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Soil Science Society of America. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Soil Science Society of America. "Can Hemp Help The Everglades?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 August 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070806160109.htm>.
Soil Science Society of America. (2007, August 7). Can Hemp Help The Everglades?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070806160109.htm
Soil Science Society of America. "Can Hemp Help The Everglades?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070806160109.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts

New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts

AP (July 21, 2014) New Orleans is the first U.S. city to participate in a large-scale recycling effort for cigarette butts. The city is rolling out dozens of containers for smokers to use when they discard their butts. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spectacular Lightning Storm Hits London

Spectacular Lightning Storm Hits London

AFP (July 19, 2014) A spectaCular lightning storm struck the UK overnight Friday. Images of lightning strikes over the Shard and Tower Bridge in central London. Duration: 00:23 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

AFP (July 19, 2014) As if it weren't enough that the Queen is the Sovereign of the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms, she is also the owner of all Britain's unmarked swans. Duration: 02:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins