By Trixie Wessel, NFU Intern

NFU’s Climate Column recently covered the practice of creating field borders. This week, we’re talking about a similar practice: filter strips. Filter strips, also known as buffer strips, are areas of vegetation planted between cropland and surface water to obstruct the passage of  sediment and pollutants into environmentally sensitive areas.

Filter strips trap suspended solids and dissolved contaminants in runoff before it reaches nearby water bodies, halting the spread of pollutants and improving water quality. Furthermore, filter strips can help prevent erosion by providing vegetative cover in highly erodible areas. In addition to their positive effects on pollution and water quality, filter strips can both act as a habitat for existing wildlife populations as well as help protect pollinator populations.

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service describes how filter strips can be used as another form of field border, or in conjunction with field borders to assist in preventing erosion and runoff. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture illustrates further advantages of using filter strips, as well as more detailed instructions on how to plan them in appropriate areas.

Are you a farmer who has implemented filter strips? What has your experience been? What other steps are you taking to mitigate climate change? Let us know in the comments section!


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