A design aid for sizing filter strips using buffer area ratio

  • Dosskey M
  • Helmers M
  • Eisenhauer D
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Nonuniform field runoff can reduce the effectiveness of filter strips
that are a uniform size along a field margin. Effectiveness can be
improved by placing more filter strip where the runoff load is greater
and less where the load is smaller. A modeling analysis was conducted of
the relationship between pollutant trapping efficiency and the ratio of
filter strip area to upslope contributing area, i.e., buffer area ratio.
The results were used to produce an aid for designing filter strips
having consistent effectiveness along field margins where runoff load is
nonuniform. Simulations using the process-based Vegetative Filter Strip
Model show that sediment and water trapping efficiencies of a filter
strip increase nonlinearly as the buffer area ratio gets larger. Site
characteristics, including slope, soil texture, and upslope soil cover
management practices, help to define this relationship more accurately.
Using the Vegetative Filter Strip Model simulation results, a graphical
design aid was developed for estimating the buffer area ratio required
to achieve specific trapping efficiencies for different pollutants under
a broad range of agricultural site conditions. A single graph was
produced showing simulation results for seven scenarios as a family of
lines that divide the full range of possible relationships between
trapping efficiency and buffer area ratio and into fairly even
increments. Simple rules guide the selection of one line that best
describes a given field situation by considering slope, soil texture,
and field cover management practices. Relationships for sediment-bound
and dissolved pollutants are interpreted from the Vegetative Filter
Strip Model results for sediment and water. The design aid is easy to
use, accounts for several major variables that determine filter strip
performance, and is based on a validated, process-based, mathematical
model. The use of this design aid will enable a more precise fit between
filter size and runoff load where runoff from agricultural fields is

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  • M. G. Dosskey

  • M. J. Helmers

  • D. E. Eisenhauer

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