Contour Buffer Strip


Strips of grass or legumes in a contoured field, which help trap sediment and nutrients. Similar to stripcropping, but with narrower grass or
legume strips.

How it works

A series of grass strips are placed across the slope on a contour. The alternating strips of grass or other permanent vegetation slow runoff flow, trap sediment from the crop strips above, and increase water infiltration. Because the buffer strip is established on the contour, runoff flows evenly across the entire surface of the grass strip, reducing sheet and rill erosion. ""
How it helps
Vegetation provides cover and habitat for small birds and animals.
The strips reduce erosion by slowing water flow and increasing water infiltration.
By reducing siltation and filtering nutrients and chemicals from runoff, grass strips improve water quality.

Planning ahead

Have you decided whether you want parallel crop strips or parallel buffer strips?
Are other conservation measures such as crop residue management installed or planned to help reduce siltation of grass strips?
Will planned acres in row crops meet your production objectives?

Tech notes

Buffer strips must be at least 15 feet wide. *
Either crop strips or grass strips may be parallel. Parallel crop strips are easier to farm with no point rows, but that results in less of the slope in row crops.
Grass buffer strips commonly make up 20% to 30% of the slope. *


Control weeds and brush in grass filter strips.
Delay mowing until July 15 to help ground-nesting birds. *
Keep vegetation tall in spring and early summer to help slow runoff flow.
Fertilize as needed.
The buffer strip may be moved up or down the slope to help re-establish vegetation or for other maintenance needs.

* Check local conditions.