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Assessing the Relationship between Changes in Corn and Soybean Density and Nitrogen in Nearby Streams within the Watersheds of the Midwestern United States.

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As the United States population continues to grow, increasing demand for food production—such as corn and soybean-based products—will escalate over time. While corn and soybean are staple crops throughout the nation, their cultivation is associated with harmful practices. For example, increased nitrogen concentrations within runoff can cause eutrophication within the water systems of the Midwestern United States. Previous studies have shown a correlation between increases in anthropogenic land use and nutrient concentrations in nearby waters; however, few studies have recently looked at the Mississippi River Watershed and the influence of increasing corn and soybean densities on total nitrogen content of nearby waterways. Utilizing GIS to spatially analyze corn and soybean density from 2006 and 2019 and classify corresponding total nitrogen data, this study focused on understanding the percent change of the two crops within the Mississippi River Watershed. It additionally examined if these changes correlate to differences in total nitrogen in nearby waters. While corn and soybean densities increased overall from 2006 to 2019, there was no significant correlation between percent change of agricultural plot density over time and total nitrogen in nearby water bodies. The lack of correlation between the variables may point to an underlying variable that was not studied. Specifically, recent changes in agricultural processes or rainfall could influence this correlation. Thus, this study appeals to future research to further understand factors influencing total nitrogen within the waters of the Mississippi River Watershed over time and in relation to crop planting trends.

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Assessing the Relationship between Changes in Corn and Soybean Density and Nitrogen in Nearby Streams within the Watersheds of the Midwestern United States.

As the United States population continues to grow, increasing demand for food production—such as corn and soybean-based products—will escalate over time. While corn and soybean are staple crops throughout the nation, their cultivation is associated with harmful practices. For example, increased nitrogen concentrations within runoff can cause eutrophication within the water systems of the Midwestern United States. Previous studies have shown a correlation between increases in anthropogenic land use and nutrient concentrations in nearby waters; however, few studies have recently looked at the Mississippi River Watershed and the influence of increasing corn and soybean densities on total nitrogen content of nearby waterways. Utilizing GIS to spatially analyze corn and soybean density from 2006 and 2019 and classify corresponding total nitrogen data, this study focused on understanding the percent change of the two crops within the Mississippi River Watershed. It additionally examined if these changes correlate to differences in total nitrogen in nearby waters. While corn and soybean densities increased overall from 2006 to 2019, there was no significant correlation between percent change of agricultural plot density over time and total nitrogen in nearby water bodies. The lack of correlation between the variables may point to an underlying variable that was not studied. Specifically, recent changes in agricultural processes or rainfall could influence this correlation. Thus, this study appeals to future research to further understand factors influencing total nitrogen within the waters of the Mississippi River Watershed over time and in relation to crop planting trends.