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                         NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION SERVICE
                                 CONSERVATION PRACTICE STANDARD


                                               FIELD BORDER
                                                           (Ac.)


                                                       CODE 386



DEFINITION                                                         objective and do not function as host for
                                                                   diseases of the field crop.
A strip of permanent vegetation established at
the edge or around the perimeter of a field.                       Plants selected for field borders will have the
                                                                   physical characteristics necessary to control
                                                                   wind and water erosion to tolerable levels on
PURPOSE
                                                                   the field border area.
This practice may be applied to accomplish
                                                                   Seedbed preparation, seeding rates, dates,
one or more of the following:
                                                                   depths, fertility requirements, and planting
   Reduce erosion from wind and water                             methods will be consistent with approved local
                                                                   criteria and site conditions.
   Protect soil and water quality
                                                                   Ephemeral gullies and rills present in the
   Manage pest populations
                                                                   planned border area will be eliminated as part
   Provide wildlife food and cover                                of seedbed preparation. If present, ephemeral
                                                                   gullies and rills located immediately upslope
   Increase carbon storage
                                                                   from the planned border area need to be
   Improve air quality                                            treated to ensure more of a sheet flow into the
                                                                   planned border area.
CONDITIONS WHERE PRACTICE APPLIES
                                                                   Additional Criteria to Reduce Erosion from
This practice is applied around the perimeter of                   Wind and Water
fields. Its use can support or connect other                       Field border establishment, in conjunction with
buffer practices within and between fields.                        other practices, will be timed so that the soil will
This practice may also apply to recreation land                    be adequately protected during the critical
or other land uses where agronomic crops                           erosion period(s).
including forages are grown.
                                                                   Establish stiff-stemmed, upright grasses,
                                                                   grass/legumes or forbs to trap wind- or water-
CRITERIA                                                           borne soil particles.

General Criteria Applicable to All Purposes                        The amount of surface and/or canopy cover
                                                                   needed from the field border shall be
Field borders shall be established around the
                                                                   determined using current approved water and
field edges to the extent needed to meet the
                                                                   wind erosion prediction technology.
resource needs and producer objectives.
                                                                   Calculations shall account for the effects of
Minimum field border widths shall be based on
                                                                   other practices in the management system.
local design criteria specific to the purpose or
purposes for installing the practice.                              Wind Erosion Reduction. Locate borders to
                                                                   provide a stable area on the windward edge of
The field borders shall be established to
                                                                   the field as determined by prevailing wind
adapted species of permanent grass, legumes
                                                                   direction data.
and/or shrubs that accomplish the design

Conservation practice standards are reviewed periodically and updated if needed. To obtain
                                                                                                    NRCS, NHCP
the current version of this standard, contact your Natural Resources Conservation Service
State Office or visit the electronic Field Office Technical Guide.                                      June 2007
386 - 2


Minimum height of grass or forbs shall be one       Provide a Habitat to Cause Pests to
foot during the critical erosion period.            Congregate. Select plants for the field border
                                                    that attract pests (e.g. alfalfa strips planted to
Water Erosion Reduction. Locate borders to
                                                    lure lygus bugs away from a cotton crop).
eliminate sloping end rows, headlands, and
other areas where concentrated water flows
                                                    Additional Criteria to Provide Wildlife Food
will enter or exit the field.
                                                    and Cover
Orient plant rows as closely as possible to         Establish plant species that provide wildlife
perpendicular to sheet flow direction.              food and cover for the target wildlife species.
                                                    [Each state should indicate here what
Additional Criteria to Protect Soil and Water       documents are to be consulted by the planner
Quality                                             to make the correct species choices for wildlife
Do not burn the field border if the main goal of    purposes.]
the field border is to protect soil or water
                                                    Schedule mowing, harvest, weed control, and
quality.
                                                    other management activities within the field
Reducing Runoff and Increasing Infiltration.        border to accommodate reproduction and other
Locate borders around the perimeter of the          life cycle requirements of target wildlife
field, or as a minimum, install borders to          species.
eliminate sloping end rows, headlands and
                                                    Vegetative successional state shall be
other areas where concentrated water flows
                                                    maintained to accommodate target wildlife
will enter or exit the field.
                                                    species requirements.
Water Quality – Adsorbed, Dissolved and
                                                    When wildlife is a concern, a lower percent
Suspended Contaminants. As a minimum,
                                                    groundcover than would be needed if
locate field borders along the edge(s) of the
                                                    protecting soil and water quality was the only
field where runoff enters or leaves the field.
                                                    goal is acceptable as long as the soil resource
The minimum width for this purpose shall be
                                                    concern is also adequately addressed (i.e. no
30 feet and have a vegetation stem
                                                    excessive soil loss). This may be achieved by
density/retardance of moderate to high (e.g.
                                                    simply increasing the field border width.
equivalent to a good stand of wheat).
Design border widths to comply with all             Additional Criteria to Increase Carbon
applicable State and local regulations              Storage
regarding manure and chemical application           Establish plant species that will produce
setbacks.                                           adequate above- and below-ground biomass
Reducing Soil Compaction from Equipment             for the site (i.e. a positive soil conditioning
Parking and Traffic. Border widths will be          index).
designed to accommodate equipment turning,          Maximize the width and length of the
parking, loading/unloading equipment, grain         herbaceous border to fit the site and increase
harvest operations, etc.                            total biomass production.

Additional Criteria to Manage Pest                  Do not burn if the main goal of the field border
Populations                                         is carbon storage.
Provide a Harbor for Beneficial organisms           Do not disturb the roots of the established
(e.g. insects, mites, etc.). Include appropriate    vegetation with tillage.
plants that attract beneficial organisms that
prey on target pests.                               Additional Criteria to Improve Air Quality
Mowing, harvesting, pesticide applications and      Establish plant species with morphological
other disturbance activities will be scheduled to   characteristics that optimize interception and
accommodate life cycle requirements of the          adhesion of airborne particulates. Select
beneficial organisms.                               plants with persistent roots and residue that



NRCS, NHCP
June 2007
                                                                                                386 - 3


stabilize soil aggregates and capture airborne       management (i.e. land-use and management
soil particles.                                      changes occur in the same location).
Establish species resistant to damage from           Establish plant species that will have the
equipment traffic.                                   desired visual effects and that will not interfere
                                                     with field operations or field border
                                                     maintenance.
CONSIDERATIONS
                                                     Consider the amount of shading that the field
Consider planting field borders around the
                                                     border or portions of the field border may
entire field, not just on the field edges where
                                                     experience and select species for those
water enters or leaves the field, for maximizing
                                                     locations accordingly.
multiple resource protection.
                                                     The use of native perennial plant species as
Establishing a narrow strip of stiff-stemmed
                                                     opposed to annual species provides a longer
upright grass at the crop/field border interface
                                                     period of resource protection.
can increase soil particle trapping efficiency of
the field border.                                    Consider installing a contour buffer system, No
                                                     Till practice or other conservation practices on
Native plants are best suited for wildlife habitat
                                                     adjacent upland areas to reduce surface runoff
enhancement and provide other ecological
                                                     and excessive sedimentation of field borders.
benefits where adapted to site conditions and
when consistent with producer objectives.
                                                     PLANS AND SPECIFICATIONS
Include native plants that provide diverse
pollen and nectar sources to encourage local         Prepare plans and specifications for each field
pollinator populations.                              or treatment unit according to the Criteria
                                                     included in this Standard. Specifications shall
Use field borders as corridors to connect
                                                     describe the requirements for applying this
existing or planned habitat blocks.
                                                     practice to meet the intended purpose. Record
Prescribed burning, strip disking, or selective      practice specifications on the Field Border 386,
herbicide applications are management tools          Conservation Practice Job Sheet. The
that can be used to maintain suitable habitat        following components shall be included for
for specifically desired wildlife species.           recording this specification:
Overseed the field border with legumes for              Field Border widths and lengths based on
increased plant diversity, soil quality, and             local design criteria.
wildlife benefits.
                                                        Field Border location(s) within the field(s)
Waterbars or berms may be needed to                      or farm boundary.
breakup or redirect concentrated water flow
within the borders.                                     Species to be used and the location and
                                                         planting density of the species used.
In selecting plant species to establish in the
field border, among other items, consider the           Site preparation requirements.
plant’s tolerance to:                                   Timing of planting and planting method.
   Sediment deposition and chemicals                   Liming or fertilizer requirements.
    planned for application
                                                        Operation and maintenance requirements.
   Drought in arid areas or where
    evapotranspiration can potentially exceed
    precipitation during the field border’s active   OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE
    growing period(s).                               Field borders require careful management and
   Equipment traffic.                               maintenance for performance and longevity.
                                                     The following O&M activities will be planned
Design border widths to match the required           and applied as needed:
field application setback widths for easier
                                                        Repair storm damage.

                                                                                     NRCS, NHCP
                                                                                         June 2007
386 - 4


   Remove sediment from above or within the             purpose of the tillage is strictly to decrease
    field border when accumulated sediment               bulk density and increase infiltration rates
    either alters the function of the field border       so as to provide a better media for
    or threatens the degradation of the planted          reestablishment of vegetation and field
    species’ survival.                                   border function.
   Shut off sprayers and raise tillage                 Maintenance activities that result in
    equipment to avoid damage to field                   disturbance of vegetation should not be
    borders.                                             conducted during the nesting season of
                                                         grass nesting birds.
   Shape and reseed border areas damaged
    by animals, chemicals, tillage, or                  Avoid vehicle traffic when soil moisture
    equipment traffic.                                   conditions are saturated.
   Maintain desired vegetative communities          REFERENCES
    and plant vigor by liming, fertilizing,
                                                     K. G. Renard, G. R. Foster, G. A. Weesies, K.
    mowing, disking, or burning and controlling
                                                     D. K. McCool and D. C. Yoder. 1997.
    noxious weeds to sustain effectiveness of
                                                     Predicting Soil Erosion by Water: A Guide to
    the border.
                                                     Conservation Planning with the Revised
   Repair and reseed ephemeral gullies and          Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE),
    rills that develop in the border.                Agricultural Handbook Number 703.
   Minimally invasive tillage (e.g. paraplowing)    Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation Version
    may be performed in rare cases where             2 (RUSLE2) website (checked May 2007):
    compaction and vehicle traffic have              http://fargo.nserl.purdue.edu/rusle2_dataweb/R
    degraded the field border function. The          USLE2_Index.htm.




NRCS, NHCP
June 2007
                               SLE2_Index.htm.




NRCS, NHCP
June 2007

				
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