Trading farmland for nitrogen protection

Twelve-year study finds size and location key in riparian buffers for managing excess nitrogen.

Excess nitrogen from agricultural runoff can enter surface waters, potentially resulting in algal blooms and fish kills. However, riparian buffer zones — areas of grasses, perennials or trees — between farmlands and streams or rivers can help.

"Riparian buffer zones are nature's hydraulic shock absorbers," Deanna Osmond, a soil scientist at North Carolina State University, said. They can reduce pollution and provide habitat for wildlife. Trees can hold stream banks together and pro

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