May 28, 2024

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) has funding available through the Nebraska Buffer Strip Program to assist landowners in establishing buffer strips.  A buffer strip provides an area between a stream and crop ground to maximize the filtration of water from rain events allowing suspended sediment and chemicals to drop out before reaching surface water bodies.  

Two types of buffers are eligible:

  • Filter strips are narrow strips of grass planted along water bodies. The minimum and maximum eligible widths for filter strips are 20 and 120 feet, respectively.
  • Riparian forest buffers, grass, trees, and shrubs adjacent to water bodies. The minimum and maximum eligible width for riparian buffers is 55 and 180 feet, respectively.

Rental rates are variable, and payments cannot exceed $250 per acre. The NDA’s Buffer Program has fewer restrictions for haying and grazing than some USDA conservation rental programs. This can be an enticing benefit for landowners with cattle operations.  The program can also be used in conjunction with the USDA Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) or Conservation Enhancement Program (CREP).  

Consider enrolling your cropland acres that border streams, ponds, or wetlands as buffer strips.  Rental rates are competitive, and there are countless benefits for wildlife, water quality, and soil health.  More information is available on the Nebraska Department of Agriculture website, or contact your local Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Office.

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