Effectiveness of naturally-occurring riparian forest buffers and grass filter strips at buffering concentrated flow from row crop fields to streams in northeast Missouri
A survey comparing buffering of concentrated flow paths (CFPs) by natural forest buffers and grass filter strips was conducted at 11 farms in three northeast Missouri watersheds. Results from the survey examining 74 CFPs occurring in row crop fields found that natural forest buffers dispersed flow from 80% of CFPs before they reached the stream, and grass filter strips dispersed 100%. It was estimated that 473 metric tons of soil moved to the riparian buffers via CFPs since the last tillage. Of the 473 metric tons, 97 metric tons of sediment was estimated lost to stream channels, all through natural forest buffers. Results suggest that the presence of higher densities of rooted vegetation and the wider buffer areas of grass filter strips are responsible for the higher percentage of buffered CFPs. Adding a grass filter strip along natural forest buffers may improve water quality by reducing sediment loss to streams.