Linking Nutrient and Hydrologically Dynamics in the Mississippi River Basin

Project Goals:

The design and management strategies attempted to minimize nutrient runoff while achieving the best outcomes for agriculture, ecosystem services, and sustainable community development.

Project Team:
    • Forbes Lipschitz Professor of Landscape Architecture
    • John Westra Associate Professor of Agricultural Economics + Agribusiness
    • Kehui Xu Professor of Oceanography + Coastal Sciences
    • David Kovacic
    • Tawab Hlimi
    • Greg Wathen
    • Kevin Latusek
    • Dustin Boudreau
    • Hannah Goodgion
    • Lauren Patti
    • Cecilia Vo
    • Ran Liu
    • Shaoli Gan
    • Yue Zhao
    • Greg Dahlke
    • Abram Eberson

This design studio and workshop explored alternative strategies for nutrient management within the Mississippi-Atchafalaya River Basin and the Northern Gulf of Mexico.

The continental scale of nutrient loading, coupled with the often conflicting needs of agricultural production and coastal ecosystems, cannot be addressed by a singular technological solution. A design framework that addresses coastal eutrophication (when excess nutrients in a waterbody lead to algal blooms that deplete oxygen) requires coordination across multiple disciplines spanning distant regions. Advanced students in landscape architecture began the project by mapping existing systems and nutrient dynamics at multiple scales. Their visual research work provided varied yet comparable layers that were overlaid and shaped as part of an interdisciplinary design workshop.

Direct + Broader Impacts:
Bringing in researchers from across the Basin and the Gulf, the workshop produced innovative and feasible designs to combat coastal eutrophication. Proposals included constructed wetlands designed to support valuable, water-loving commodity crops, levee alterations to accommodate a floodable wildlife conservation park, a precision model for grass-based ranching to reduce corn-based feed production, and in-situ oxygenating turbines installed on Gulf oil rigs.