ASC Wins Grant to Quantify Phosphorus Leaching from Streambank Erosion

ASC Wins Grant to Quantify Phosphorus Leaching from Streambank Erosion

Andrew Margenot works at Polecat Creek, a tributary of the Embarras in Coles County, Ill., with severe bank erosion. Credit: Andrew Margenot

A team of Agroecosystem Sustainability Center (ASC) scientists was awarded a grant from the Illinois Nutrient Research and Education Council (NREC) to quantify streambank erosion across the state and its contributions to phosphorus (P) loading of surface waters.

Researchers will develop estimates of non-agricultural sources of P that leach into the Mississippi River, clarifying agricultural P contributions. The study will provide much-needed information for a 2025 milestone in the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (NLRS), the state’s plan to reduce P losses to the Mississippi River and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico.

Currently, the Illinois NLRS does not account for phosphorus from eroding streambanks, thereby incorrectly “counting” this nutrient load as an agricultural loss. Quantifying it will improve understanding of P loss sources from Illinois to the Mississippi River, and it should improve allocation of resources for nutrient loss mitigation.

The project, which will receive $851,049 over four years, is led by Andrew Margenot, Assistant Professor of Crop Sciences and co-Associate Director of ASC; and Kaiyu Guan, Blue Waters Associate Professor of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (NRES) and Founding Director of ASC. Co-PIs include Shengnan Zhou, Research Scientist in Crop Sciences; Bruce Rhoads, Professor of Geographic Information Science; and Sheng Wang, Research Assistant Professor in NRES.