The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources announced Aug. 30 the approval of Ag BufferBuilder, a precision conservation planning tool from Land O'Lakes SUSTAIN, the sustainability business unit of Land O'Lakes, Inc., as an alternative practice option under the Minnesota law that requires a 50-foot buffer around all fields that drain to public waters.
The precision conservation planning tool developed by Agren, Inc. and Land O'Lakes, Inc., allows a conservation planner to custom-design crop field buffers to trap sediment and nutrients as water flows off a field. The Ag BufferBuilder tool uses site-specific soil information, 40 years of daily climate data and precise topography mapped by lasers to model the flow of water and sediment from a crop field. This technology identifies where there will and will not be a concentrated flow of water so farmers can strategically place buffers where they are needed. Farmers can install a variable-width buffer that achieves the same—or better—water quality protection using significantly less acreage than a 50-foot buffer.
"Land O'Lakes SUSTAIN is excited to partner with the state to provide flexibility for farmers, while helping to enhance water quality at the same time," stated Matt Carstens, executive vice president for Land O'Lakes SUSTAIN. "The Ag BufferBuilder tool helps enable farmers to utilize technology to the advantage of both their business and their local natural resources. By creating variable width buffers through the BufferBuilder tool, a farmer can preserve land in production and focus buffers in the areas that need them most.
Carstens continued, "As a farmer-owned cooperative, Land O'Lakes focuses on working with policymakers and farmers to find solutions that meet sustainability objectives and work for the agriculture community."
The Ag BufferBuilder tool is the latest offering in the Land O'Lakes SUSTAIN suite of tools to help farmers install best-in-class sustainability practices, customized to each operation's unique landscape and needs. The goal of SUSTAIN is to provide each farmer with comprehensive management tools and conservation practices that help them optimize their agricultural production while also protecting our air, soil and water resources. Land O'Lakes' extensive data and imaging technology is designed to help farmers pinpoint specific solutions for his or her farm, ranging from improved soil management practices to precision application of fertilizers. To learn more about SUSTAIN, visit sustain.ag.
The Ag BufferBuilder tool will be available through authorized Land O'Lakes SUSTAIN ag retailers who will deliver the conservation planning tool as a service to their growers. Ag retailers outside the Land O'Lakes cooperative network can license the tool with a fee.