Riparian Buffers: Function, Management, and Economic Implications for Agriculture

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2003: $242,035.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2007
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $33,917.00
Region: Western
State: Washington
Principal Investigator:
Jon Johnson
Washington State University - Puyallup Res. & Ext.

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: corn, potatoes, grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Additional Plants: trees


  • Animal Production: manure management, preventive practices, feed/forage
  • Crop Production: agroforestry, forestry, nutrient cycling
  • Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, extension, on-farm/ranch research, technical assistance
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, feasibility study, agricultural finance
  • Natural Resources/Environment: afforestation, hedges - grass, habitat enhancement, indicators, riparian buffers, riverbank protection, soil stabilization, wildlife
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems
  • Sustainable Communities: partnerships, sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    This project will build a database of water quality impacts by different types of riparian buffers as it relates to species composition, tree size, and depth to the water table. Buffer efficacy to provide shade to streams and the impact on crop production will be determined, and economic models of buffer impact on individual farm operations will be created and disseminated to farmers through a series of workshops. Other outreach activities will include field days, visits to high schools and meetings with farm organizations.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Our goal is to identify what constitutes a functional riparian buffer to protect water quality and improve salmon habitat on agricultural land in western Washington and to determine the economic impact of such buffers on farm enterprises. Specific objectives include: 1) To determine the effects of buffer width, species composition, and management on buffer function including nutrient removal, sediment reduction, shade, and bank stabilization; 2) To conduct economic impact analysis of different riparian buffer designs on individual farm enterprises; and 3) To develop and disseminate buffer recommendations and decision-making tools to farmers, farm agencies, regulators, and policy makers dealing with farmland along watercourses in western Washington.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.