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Reaching farther in the search for algae solutions

There’s an allegory about the drunk man who lost his car keys. A police officer finds him searching under a streetlight. The officer helps in the search and then asks the inebriate if he’s sure that he lost them near the streetlight.

The drunk man replies that he lost his keys across the street but is searching near the streetlight because he can see better underneath it.

The “streetlight effect” is the tendency to search for something primarily where it’s easiest to look. For nutrient sources that feed algae blooms, farms have been an easy place to look. 

In part because of efforts to monitor the effects of best management practices, we have years of data that measure the phosphorus and nitrogen loads running off agricultural fields. The good news is that although more work is needed, we have information on what practices reduce nutrient losses.