Purdue University | Indiana CCA

Proceedings 2006

Indiana Certified Crop Adviser Conference


Hypoxia Action Plan: What Can Midwest Agriculture Do?

The hypoxic zone is an area in the northern Gulf of Mexico where dissolved oxygen concentrations in the shallow ocean are less than 2 mg/L, the level necessary to sustain most aquatic life. The size of the hypoxic zone varies considerably from year to year depending on the timing and extent of nitrogen loadings and water-column stratification. Agriculture has been identified as the source of about 74 percent of the nitrate and 65 percent of the total nitrogen reaching the Gulf. The principal agricultural areas contributing nitrate are tile-drained cropland in Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio and southern Minnesota. The current hypoxia Action Plan includes a goal to reduce the 5-year running average areal extent of hypoxia to less than 5,000 square kilometers by the year 2015. In 2000, the best current science indicated that average nitrogen loads to the Gulf should be reduced by 30 percent from the 1980-96 average. Current estimates suggest that a 40-45% reduction may be needed to reach this goal. This presentation will provide an overview of the Gulf hypoxia issue, ongoing efforts at the regional and national level and management practices available to producers to reduce nutrient losses.


Back to Index

Dennis McKenna
Deputy Administrator - Division of Natural Resources
Illinois Department of Agriculture

Mr. McKenna provides scientific analysis and policy recommendations to the Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture and the Manager of the Division of Natural Resources on complex water quality and quantity issues of national and statewide significance, including development of TMDLs, hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico, pesticides and nutrients in surface water and groundwater, and groundwater withdrawals. He represents the State of Illinois as a member of the Coordinating Committee of the Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force, the Upper Mississippi River Sub-Basin Hypoxia Nutrient Committee, and the Steering Committee of the Ohio River Sub-Basin Committee. Mr. McKenna has a B.A. from Purdue University and a Masters degree in Soil Geomorphology from Northern Illinois University. He is a member of the American Society of Agronomy and the Soil Science Society of America.