Study: Nitrogen Use May Hurt Iowa’s Biodiversity

Ames, Iowa — An Iowa State University study finds a chemical in fertilizer may harm biodiversity in the state, as nitrogen is hard to contain and reaches other plants through the water and air.

To see how nitrogen affects naturally-occurring species, I-S-U researcher Lori Biederman put fertilizer on plots of tallgrass prairie. This caused brome, an invasive grass species, to grow so much that other plants were crowded out. Biederman says brome blooms months earlier than native species.

Biederman says as the brome thrived, other plants suffered, which decreases biodiversity.

Biederman notes that because native species have deeper roots, these plants are better for the soil. The study is being published in the science journal PLOS One.



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