Grantee examines how ‘Big Ag’ makes money ignoring science and polluting America’s waters

Swine production facilities are ubiquitous in the Corn Belt. This one is in Minnesota east of Minneapolis. Photo by Keith Schneider / Circle of Blue

In Iowa and other corn-growing states, nitrogen increasingly is spread on fields to keep nutrients in the soil in the event of heavy rain. But the chemical ends up in waterways and harms the environment. Veteran environmental reporter Keith Schneider, writing in Circle Blue, is reporting on the dangers of toxic pollution from farmland runoffHe found that many farmers often apply more nitrogen than they need in order to try to maximize “yield,” or how much corn they can produce per acre. With support from the Fund, Schneider examined research showing that applying more fertilizer than plants need had no effect on yield. This research also showed that over-fertilizing was causing an ecological calamity. But the science was largely ignored by farmers, whom Schneider found pay more attention to the excessive fertilizing practices pushed by the so-called “Big Ag” production industry and aligned academic institutions.