Research could increase buffer strip sites
A recent study suggests farmers might be able to use buffer strips in more places than previously recommended to protect water quality.
Researchers at Iowa State University say design standards for saturated riparian buffer strips limit suitable sites for the practice which is used to redirect water from fields and reduce nutrient loss.
Current buffers are limited by maximum bank heights and minimum buffer widths, but researchers say bank height is not enough reasoning to exclude potential installation. The findings could be used to update standards by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and allow for more buffers to be installed.
Saturated riparian buffers can reduce nitrate loading by more than 90 percent by artificially elevating groundwater levels in drainage ditches through distribution pipes which seep back into a vegetive buffer.