Conservation was once called “farming ugly” then it was “farming lazy” but now conservation farming is for the future and for profit. Varying methods of conservation farming are being adopted on Mid-South farms including reduced tillage, land leveling, improved drainage and crop rotation. However, grass filter strips on turn rows may be one of the easiest conservation methods to implement.
Grass strips planted at intervals in the fields or at field edges are effective filters to extract pesticide runoffs from adjoining fields. Grasses such as tall fescue, switch grass and bermudagrass are a few of the grasses used to provide producers with flexibility in filter selection. Each of the grasses has advantages and disadvantages depending on your soil, purpose and management.
At the Delta Conservation Demonstration Center in Washington County, Miss., the establishment of filter strips reduced the amount of water and soil sediment runoff from the fields.
“We have the ability to travel the turnrows in wet weather; the turnrows are an improvement in farm appearance; and the turnrows are relatively easy to keep up year round,” says Sam Newsom, chairman of the board of the DCDC.
One of the greatest benefits is that soil sediment, which can be loaded with fertilizer and pesticides, stays in the field and not in water and sediment leaving the farm. No better soil sediment trap exists on a farm than a grassy turn row and grassy water furrows, says Newsom.
Filter strips grow in the field or at its edge where an accidental direct application or drift of herbicides applied to the crop can easily occur. Unintentional applications can damage the effectiveness of the strips, minimize benefits and discourage acceptance. Use common sense when applying total vegetation control products such as glyphosate. Sprayers must be turned off before crossing grassy waterways and grassy turn rows.
DCDC director, Hiram Boone
P.O. Box 411, Metcalfe, MS 38760