Minnesota's Buffer Law passed in the previous legislative session requires farmers to install a 16.5 foot buffer on public ditches and a 50 foot buffer on public waters that are along their farmland. There was a lot of confusion at first on what was a public ditch or public water. At this point most farmers know where buffers are required on their land. However there still is much confusion on what alternative practices are approved that provide "equal or greater" value than buffer strips.

Alternative practices approved by the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) can now be used to reduce the mandatory buffer width. The Alternatives Buffer Management Tool funded by the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, designed by the University of Minnesota and approved by BWSR can help farmers choose those practices that work best for them to reduce the land they need to put in a buffer strip.

This tool is now available at all Soil and Water Conservation Districts and very soon there will be a link on the Minnesota Corn Growers Association web site, mncorn.org. Minnesota Corn growers President Harold Wolle said " This tool will help farmers decide the best strategy for their farm and decrease the loss of productive farmland while protecting water quality."