"Putting Buffers in Their Place"

New approaches that enhance strategic placement of vegetative buffers is the subject of National C-FAR's tenth Research Hill Seminar in 2012 on Monday, July 30 at a ‘Lunch~N~Learn' at noon in 1300 Longworth House Office Building and again at 3 PM in 337 Russell Senate Office Building. The featured speaker is Dr. Mike Dosskey, a US Forest Service research scientist with the USDA National Agroforestry Center located on the campus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

NCFAR logo"Realizing the potential for vegetative buffers to improve water quality requires that they be put in the right places," says Dosskey. "Planning tools are being developed that will enable conservationists to easily identify the right places and ensure their effectiveness."

"This presentation provides an excellent example of the value of federally funded food and agricultural research, extension and education in producing the scientific outcomes and outreach needed to meet 21st century challenges andopportunities," says Chuck Conner, President of the National Coalition for Food & Agricultural Research (National C-FAR).

Vegetative buffers are strips of grass and trees designed into agriculture landscapes to improve drinking water quality and aquatic health by trapping sediment and farm chemicals from runoff before they get into streams.

They are easy to install and manage, and they are a popular component of CRP and EQIP incentive programs administered by USDA.

These programs have long employed a simple model of targeting downhill side(s) ofagricultural fields and along stream courses.

Recent studies, however, are showing that some of these locations are much better than others for getting solid conservation returns.

New tools are enabling more precise discernment of pollutant sources, runoff pathways, and buffering capabilities across landscapes.

These new tools capitalize on GIS and widespread availability of spatial data on land uses, stream networks, soil properties, and topography for identifying where the right combination of conditions exist to achieve disproportionately greaterimpact from vegetative buffers. Furthermore, the simplicity of these tools facilitates their widespread use by field professionals.

By guiding conservationists toward higher-impact locations and away from less-promising ones, the use of these new tools may substantially improve the cost-effectiveness of vegetative buffers and water quality improvement programs.

Seminar presentations are available at www.ncfar.org/Hill_Seminar_Series.asp. The seminar is open to the public and the media.