Saturated Buffers

An edge-of-field practice for tiled fields

A conservation drainage practice called a saturated buffer removes nitrates from subsurface drainage water at low cost – without affecting farm field drainage. Instead of water flowing through your tile straight to an outflow point, water is directed to a lateral tile which runs parallel to a ditch. A grass buffer is created at the edge of the field above this lateral tile, which takes up the water and nutrients in the water, before it leaves your field.

USDA Soil Scientist Dan Jaynes demonstrates the use of saturated buffers below:

The USDA has provided further information on saturated buffers here.

Buffers also provide wildlife habitat, sequester carbon, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, stabilize stream banks and potentially reduce flood impacts. Cost of buffers can vary greatly depending on width, type of vegetation and the amount of earthwork required.

Further Reading: