Filter strips are areas of herbaceous vegetation situated
between cropland, grazing land, forest land, or disturbed land and
environmentally sensitive areas. Sensitive areas include streams, lakes,
wetlands, and other water bodies and areas susceptible to damage by water-borne
pollutants, including sediment, particulate organics, sediment-adsorbed
contaminants, and dissolved contaminants.
Filter strips function by 1) reducing sediment, particulate
organics, and sediment-adsorbed contaminant loadings in runoff; 2) reducing
dissolved contaminant loadings in runoff; 3) serving as Zone 3 of a Riparian
Forest Buffer (see Practice Standard 391); 4) reducing sediment, particulate
organics, and sediment-adsorbed contaminant loadings in surface irrigation tail
water; 5) restoring, creating, or enhancing herbaceous habitat for wildlife and
beneficial insects; and 6) maintaining or enhancing watershed functions and
Filter strips are used on cropland, grazing land, forest
land, or disturbed land.
Filter strips can enhance wildlife objectives, depending on
the vegetative species used and management practiced. Using native or adapted
vegetative species can improve the wildlife values of a filter strip area as
well as biodiversity. Avoid mowing during nesting periods.
Operation and Maintenance
Mow filter strips (and harvest if possible) as necessary to
encourage dense vegetative growth. If established for wildlife habitat, avoid
mowing during the nesting period of ground-nesting wildlife. Control undesirable
weed species. Inspect and repair after storm events to fill in gullies, remove
flow-disrupting sediment accumulation, reseed disturbed areas, and take other
measures to prevent concentrated flow into and across the filter strip. Lime and
fertilize to soil test recommendations to maintain a vigorous stand. Exclude
livestock and vehicular traffic from filter strips during wet periods of the
year to reduce compaction that will limit infiltration. This type of traffic
should be excluded at all times to the extent practical. Restoration is required
if the filter strip has accumulated sediment to a point that it no longer
Site-specific requirements are listed on the specifications
sheet. Additional provisions are entered on the job sketch sheet. Specifications
are prepared in accordance with the NRCS Field Office Technical Guide. See
practice standard Filter Strip, code 393.
See above to download a Printable version PDF Filter Strips Job Sheet
to view and use the job worksheets.