NSAC's Blog

Conservation Buffers for Organic Farmers

November 14, 2013

Oregon Tilth and the National Center for Appropriate Technology, along with the Xerxes Society for Invertebrate Conservation and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), have published a guidebook entitled “Conservation Buffers in Organic Systems: Western States Implementation Guide.”

The purpose of the guide is to help NRCS field staff and interested farmers and ranchers install and manage conservation buffers in a way the meets National Organic Program (NOP) standards.  The guide was funded through a grant from Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) and will be part of a five-guide series.

According to an Oregon Tilth press release:

Conservation buffers are generally strips of vegetation placed in the landscape to influence ecological processes and provide a variety of services.  In the context of organically managed systems, buffer zones are required under NOP rules if there is a risk of contamination, via drift or flow, of substances not allowed under organic regulations such as an organic field bordering a conventional field on which prohibited substances are being used.

The guide provides planners and farmers with information on the relevant NOP regulations as well as with buffer design considerations, including site selection and plant selection.

NRCS offers technical and financial assistance to agricultural producers to implement conservation buffers through a variety of programs, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the Conservation Stewardship Program.  NRCS also works with USDA’s Farm Services Agency to help producers install buffers through the continuous Conservation Reserve Program.  Click here to download the full implementation guide.

Categories: Conservation, Energy & Environment

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