A solution for nitrogen pollution?

    The Chesapeake Bay watershed. Image from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

    Nitrogen pollution from fertilizer runoff is one of the main sources of low oxygen “dead zones” in the Chesapeake Bay. And it’s a problem throughout the world, as the modern agriculture that sustains human life is itself dependent on commercially-produced nitrogen fertilizers.

    “Humans have nearly doubled Earth’s natural flow of fixed nitrogen, overwhelming the capacity of ecosystems to remove it,” this fascinating story from Grist says.  “The resulting buildup is poisoning the planet’s waterways, creating a crisis some consider even more threatening than the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.”

    But a budding business backed by some big-name billionaires and other startups are banking on a bacterial solution: a liquid probiotic to be applied as seeds are planted.

    “If this solution proves out, it would clean up the pollution choking the planet’s life support systems, without forcing widespread famine and a return to the nitrogen wars,” the article says.

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    Robert Zullo
    Robert has been winning and losing awards as a reporter and editor for 13 years at weekly and daily newspapers, beginning at Worrall Community Newspapers in Union, N.J., where he was a staff writer and managing editor. He spent five years in south Louisiana covering hurricanes, oil spills and Good Friday crawfish boils as a reporter and city editor for the The Courier and the Daily Comet newspapers in Houma and Thibodaux. He covered Richmond city hall for the Richmond Times-Dispatch from 2012 to 2013 and worked as a general assignment and city hall reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from 2013 to 2016. He returned to Richmond in 2016 to cover energy, environment and transportation for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He grew up in Miami, Fla., and central New Jersey. A former waiter, armored car guard and appliance deliveryman, he is a graduate of the College of William and Mary.