ISU Saturated Buffers Highlighted During Soil and Water Conservation Week

May 10, 2017

Saturated bufferA farm near Madrid in Boone County, owned by the Committee for Agricultural Development, is one place to learn best management practices for water quality improvement. Tom Isenhart, natural resource ecology and management, and Dan Jaynes, soil scientist with the USDA, serve as leads on a saturated buffer project located on the farm. Saturated buffers are an edge-of-field practice designed to divert tile line water into buffer area soil. This allows natural processes to denitrify the water before it enters the stream. According to Isenhart and Jaynes, there are 14,000 miles of eligible land in Iowa suited to saturated buffer installation. Saturated buffers have recently been approved as a standard practice for nutrient removal and as of December 2016 are cost-share eligible. Saturated buffers are one of several tools designed to meet nutrient reduction goals set by the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. At a May 4 event with 50 people, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed an official conservation week proclamation and joined Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, Dean Wintersteen and Acting Vice President of Extension John Lawrence in viewing the saturated buffer installation.