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Running a tile line [perforated underground pipe] along a riparian buffer can enhance denitrification and serve as a cost effective, low maintenance nutrient reduction practice.

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Saturated Buffer

Saturated Buffer

Photo by Brycen, Aaron, Kylie and Jackson

Saturated Buffer

Location: Soybean farm along Bear Creek, near Roland, IA
Featuring: Dan Jaynes, Research Scientist, National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment, USDA/ARS

Are saturated buffers a farmer’s most effective tool to reduce nutrient runoff?

Dan Jaynes and his colleagues have been using monitoring wells, soil sensors and pressure transducers to collect soil and water quality data on nitrate leaching at dozens of saturated buffers since 2010. If their results can establish that saturated buffers are an efficient tool for nitrate sequestration, then the practice could become eligible for USDA cost share programs, making it easier for farmers to adopt the practice on their own fields.

“Saturated buffers enhance the natural denitrification potential of riparian buffers in tile drained landscapes. The riparian buffer has been modified to allow some tile drain water to infiltrate along the length of the buffer as shallow roundwater.”

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