Evaluating the technical and economic feasibility of harvestable biomass crops as regenerative buffer strips and silt sock packing for nutrient runoff control

Lead Applicant: Emily Yi Wai Chiang

Research Priority: Water Quality & Quantity 

Program Type: Tier 1

Funding Cycle: 2023/2024

Research Centre: NA

Research Summary: Buffers are strips of vegetation grown alongside natural areas, for example watercourses. They can be used as a best management practice on agricultural land to protect surface water from runoff. Buffers are typically implemented on marginal land, where they do not impact farming operations, or in environmentally sensitive areas. However, the limited adoption of buffers, especially in croplands not directly bordering a watercourse, calls for more innovative strategies to encourage its use, for run-off control, but also as a potential source of revenue, and one more tool to restore biodiversity in long-standing cropland regions. Understanding the economic benefits of harvestable biomass buffers requires a detailed evaluation on ideal placement and width of the buffer strips based on field location, logistics for harvesting, costs and returns. There are also opportunities in using the harvested biomass as filter media in silt socks, and in their use in combination with, or to complement, buffer strips. This project also intends to maximize the translation and transfer of the developed practices.