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Serving: IA
Bear Creek buffer with prairie plants ILF
FIRST YEAR: The Bear Creek saturated buffer was fall-seeded to prairie plants, pictured here in its first year of growth.

Explore Bear Creek's saturated buffer

Iowa Learning Farms’ virtual field day June 11 will highlight use of saturated buffers on farms.

Explore the first saturated buffer, which was installed in 2010, within an existing riparian buffer along Bear Creek in Hamilton County in central Iowa. You won’t have to leave your home. You can watch it on your computer, as the presentation will include video from the field as well as an opportunity to ask questions live. 

Iowa Learning Farms, in partnership with the Iowa Nutrient Research Center, Conservation Learning Group and Prairie Rivers of Iowa, is hosting a free virtual saturated buffer field day at 1 p.m. June 11.  

The live interaction will be with Tom Isenhart, Iowa State University professor; Billy Beck, assistant professor and ISU Extension forestry specialist; and Dan Haug and David Stein of Prairie Rivers of Iowa. The panel will discuss how saturated buffers, riparian buffers and pollinator habitat can work together to improve water quality, farm aesthetics and wildlife opportunities. 

Put saturated buffers to work 

Riparian buffers are a proven practice for removing nitrate from overland flow and shallow groundwater. However, in landscapes with artificial subsurface (tile) drainage, most of the subsurface flow leaving fields is passed through the buffers in drainage pipes, leaving little opportunity for nitrate removal.

Isenhart, along with Dan Jaynes, research soil scientist with the National Laboratory for Ag and Environment at Ames, Iowa, pioneered the process of rerouting a fraction of field tile drainage as subsurface flow through a riparian buffer for increasing nitrate removal. They created the first-ever saturated buffer that will be featured during this virtual field day. 

“The Bear Creek saturated buffers are prime examples that trees and perennial vegetation can work in agricultural watersheds, benefiting both water quality and the Iowa farmer,” Beck says. His research and Extension programming focus on the impacts that trees, woodlands and forests have on water quality and quantity in the Midwest. 

Webinar archived  

Make plans to join the live field day. Shortly before 1 p.m. June 11, go to ISU's Zoom page. Or visit and click “Join Live Virtual Field Day.” Or call 312-626-6799 or 646-876-9923. The meeting ID is 914 1198 4892. 

The field day will be archived at A certified crop adviser board-approved continuing education unit has been applied for. Information about how to apply to receive the credit (if approved) will be provided at the end of the live field day.  

Source: ILF, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset. 




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