Field Border

A strip of grass or legumes at the edge of a field used in place of end rows.        ""

How it works

Strips of perennial vegetation are established at the outside edges of a field where excessive sheet and rill erosion is occurring. The grass or legume strips replace crop end rows, which would be planted up and down hill and be highly erosive. Field borders are sometimes referred to as picture frames of grass, and are used with contour farming, terrace, buffer strip and contour stripcropping systems. The grass or legume in the strip protects steep field edges from soil erosion, and provides turning and travel lanes around the field.

How it helps

Vegetative cover reduces sheet and rill erosion by slowing water flow.
Vegetation filters runoff to improve water quality.
Grass and legume strips may be harvested in some cases and are easier to turn on than end rows.
Vegetation provides cover and habitat for small birds and animals.

Planning ahead

Will the width be wide enough to turn your equipment?
Can that land qualify for set aside?

Tech notes

Borders must be at least 16 feet wide, or wide enough for your equipment. *
Borders need to be seeded or left in place when a meadow field is plowed.
Seed with perennial grasses, legumes or a mixture of the two.
Seed cool season grasses between March 1 and May 15 or during late summer seeding period, August 1 to September 15.
Plant warm season grasses between April 1 and June 1. *


Delay mowing field borders until July 15 to allow time for young nesting birds to leave their nests.
Reseed as necessary to maintain desired cover. *
Shut off farm chemical sprayers when turning on a field border, and insist custom chemical applicators do the same.
Maintain nutrient levels. If vegetative cover declines, apply 30 lbs. Nitrogen, 20 lbs. Phosphate and 20 lbs. potash per acre. *

* Check local recommendations.