Monsanto gift to finance farm river pollution study

By Philip Brasher
December 9, 2008; Des Moines Register

Washington, D.C. – Monsanto Co. is giving about $5 million to the Iowa Soybean Association and several conservation groups to study methods of preventing farm runoff from polluting the Mississippi River.

Some of the work will target the watersheds of the Boone and Raccoon rivers that are important to the Des Moines drinking-water supply.
The Nature Conservancy is receiving the largest share of the grant, $3 million, for a three-year pilot project in conservation in the Boone River watershed and in areas of Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The Iowa soybean organization is receiving $400,000 for work under a yearlong project in the Boone and Raccoon watersheds.

Runoff from Midwest farms has caused a so-called dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Pollution could grow as farmers expand production of corn to meet the growing global demand for grain.
The National Research Council is scheduled to issue a study this week of how the government can reduce pollution along the Mississippi River.

Conservation practices such as reduced tillage will be monitored for their effectiveness and the results provided to farmers.

John Heisdorffer of Keota, the soybean association’s president, said growers will adopt farming methods that are shown to be profitable while also helping the environment.

Results from all of the projects are to be made public, a Monsanto spokesman said.