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Protecting habitats and biodiversity

In *All, Earth Day, Environmental Stewardship by AgIsAmerica

Natural ecosystems provide clean air and water, food and shelter for wildlife and recreation opportunities. Agriculture, urbanization, climate change, pests and other stressors put America’s landscapes and native species, including essential pollinators, at risk. U.S. Land-grant universities are working to restore and protect ecosystems and biodiversity.

Here are a few examples of that work:

  • Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) molecules are “forever chemicals” that linger in the environment and can be highly toxic to humans even at extremely low amounts. Researchers in Connecticut worked with Yale University and the University of Minnesota to develop nanomaterials that attach to PFAS molecules so they can be easily extracted from soil by plant roots and shoots. Soil amendments with these engineered nanomaterials could help remediate land.

  • Working with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, Iowa researchers developed the Financial and Nutrient Reduction Tool to help farmers and landowners estimate direct and opportunity costs of conservation objectives. The tool’s tailored, localized data can reduce critical uncertainties, encouraging landowners to adopt conservation practices.

  • In Pennsylvania, researchers generated annual county-level estimates of lethal doses of insecticides honeybees received from chemicals applied to cropland, or the “toxic load.” This new indicator can be a more accurate alternative to the commonly used “pounds of insecticide applied” scale. The research showed an increased total “toxic load” of over 120-fold in some Midwestern states due largely to increased neonicotinoid seed treatments in corn and soybean fields. This is the first study to identify geographic patterns of insecticide toxicity in bees and reveal specific geographic areas where mitigation and conservation efforts could be focused.

Source: National Impacts Database

Read the full impact statement.

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