Location, Location, Location! Putting Buffers in Their Place
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Agroforestry Center Research Ecologist Mike Dosskey was the featured speaker on July 30, 2012, at two Capitol Hill seminars. Dosskey's presentation, Location, Location, Location! Putting Buffers in Their Place, featured a new Geographic Information System (GIS)-based targeting tool that shows where vegetative buffers should be located in agricultural landscapes to maximize retention of sediments, nutrients, and other water pollutants.
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. Dosskey's research shows that fixed-width buffers along field margins and waterways are often not the best locations when protecting water quality is the primary goal. Realizing the potential for vegetative buffers to improve water quality requires that they be put in the right places.
New planning tools that Dosskey and his cooperators at the University of Kentucky are developing will enable more precise discernment of pollutant sources, runoff pathways, and buffering capabilities across landscapes. The tools capitalize on GIS technology and the 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 greater effect from vegetative buffers.
Forest Service Partners