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The Center for Native Grasslands Management

Title: Vegetative barrier: A new conservation buffer practice
Year: 2002
Author(s): Douglas, J., Lightie, D., Mas, E., Glennon, R., Dabney, S.
Source Title: Proceedings of the Third Eastern Native Grass Symposium
Source Type: Proceedings
pages: 298
Original Publication:  
Abstract: In 1991, the USDA-NRCS and the USDA-ARS began a cooperative effort to evaluate vegetative barriers as a conservation practice for sloping cropland. Vegetative barriers are defined as narrow, permanent strips of dense, perennial vegetation established in parallel rows perpendicular to the dominant slope of the field. They control soil vegetation by encouraging benching, retarding and reducing surface runoff, dispersing concentrated flow and reducing ephemeral gully development. They also entrap sediment-borne and soluble contaminants. Results from research and field studies were used to develop a national conservation practice standard. In March 1991 the vegetative barrier practice was accepted for inclusion in the USDA-NRCS National Handbook of Conservation Practices with practice code 601. Stem size and density of the plant material used for this practice is crucial for its sediment trapping efficiency, especially in concentrated flow areas. Switchgrass, a native warm season perennial bunchgrass, has been shown to be a viable plant material for this practice. There are numerous switchgrass cultivars available but selection of the proper cultivar for the geographic area and soil drainage is advisable. Consult a local NRCS field office or the plant materials program for the cultivar recommended for your region.
Publisher: The North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, NC, October 1-3, 2002. Omnipress, Madison, WI
Editor(s): J. Randall