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Title: Assessment of concentrated flow through riparian buffers

Author: Dosskey, M.G.; Helmers, M.J.; Eisenhauer, D.E.; Franti, T.G.; Hoagland, K.D.;

Date: 2002

Source: Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, Vol. 57(6): 336-343

Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication

Description: Concentrated flow of surface runoff from agricultural fields may limit the capability of riparian buffers to remove pollutants. This study was conducted on four farms in southeastern Nebraska to develop a method for assessing the extent of concentrated flow in riparian buffers and for evaluating the impact that it has on sediment-trapping efficiency. Field methods consisted of mapping field runoff areas and their pathways to and through riparian buffers to streams. Mathematical relationships were developed from a model (VFSMOD) that eliminates sediment-trapping efficiency from the ratio of buffer area to field runoff area. Among the farms surveyed, riparian buffers averaged 9 to 35 m wide, and gross buffer area ranged from 1.5 to 7.2 ha, but the effective buffer area that actually contacts runoff water was only 0.2 to 1.3 ha. Patterns of topography and microrelief in fields and riparian zones prevented uniform distribution of field runoff across entire buffer areas. Using the mathematical relationships, it is estimated that riparian buffers at each of the four farms could potentially remove 99%, 67%, 59%, and 41% of sediment from field runoff if the runoff is uniformly distributed over the entire gross buffer area. However, because of non-uniform distribution, it is estimated that only 43%, 15%, 23%, and 34%, respectively, would actually be removed. The results indicate that concentrated flow through riparian buffers can be substantial and may greatly limit filtering effectiveness in this region.

Keywords: concentrated flow, nonpoint source pollution, riparian buffers, sediment, surface runoff, vegetative filter strips

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Dosskey, M.G.; Helmers, M.J.; Eisenhauer, D.E.; Franti, T.G.; Hoagland, K.D. 2002. Assessment of concentrated flow through riparian buffers. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, Vol. 57(6): 336-343


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