Skip to main content
Least-cost Control of Agricultural Nutrient Contributions to the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxic Zone
  • Sergey Rabotyagov, University of Washington
  • Todd Campbell, Iowa State University
  • Manoj Jha, Iowa State University
  • Philip W Gassman, Iowa State University
  • Jeffrey Arnold, USDA Agricultural Research Service
  • Lyubov Kurkalova, North Carolina A&T University
  • Silvia Secchi, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
  • Hongli Feng, Iowa State University
  • Catherine L Kling, Iowa State University

© 2010 by the Ecological Society of America

Published in Ecological Applications, Vol. 20, No. 6 (September 2010) at doi: 10.1890/08-0680.1

Publication Date
In 2008, the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico, measuring 20 720 km2, was one of the two largest reported since measurement of the zone began in 1985. The extent of the hypoxic zone is related to nitrogen and phosphorous loadings originating on agricultural fields in the upper Midwest. This study combines the tools of evolutionary computation with a water quality model and cost data to develop a trade-off frontier for the Upper Mississippi River Basin specifying the least cost of achieving nutrient reductions and the location of the agricultural conservation practices needed. The frontier allows policymakers and stakeholders to explicitly see the trade-offs between cost and nutrient reductions. For example, the cost of reducing annual nitrate-N loadings by 30% is estimated to be US$1.4 billion/year, with a concomitant 36% reduction in P and the cost of reducing annual P loadings by 30% is estimated to be US$370 million/year, with a concomitant 9% reduction in nitrate-N.
Citation Information
Sergey Rabotyagov, Todd Campbell, Manoj Jha, Philip W Gassman, et al.. "Least-cost Control of Agricultural Nutrient Contributions to the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxic Zone" Vol. 20 Iss. 6 (2010)
Available at: