Buffer Law Implementation Technical Guidance



This technical document provides an overview of the process and considerations conducted by Soil and Water Conservation Districts when assisting landowners in implementing the Alternative Practices provision in the Minnesota Buffer Law. Additionally, this document details a “6 pack” of common alternative practices that may be a useful start for landowners interested in water quality protection options comparable to a buffer and to SWCDs in offering alternative practices implementation support and validation.

What Statute Says

“A landowner owning property adjacent to a water body identified in a buffer protection map and whose property is used for cultivation farming may meet the requirements… …by adopting an alternative riparian water quality practice, or combination of structural, vegetative, and management practices, based on the Natural Resources Conservation Service Field Office Technical Guide or other practices approved by the board, that provide water quality protection comparable to the buffer protection for the water body that the property abuts.” See §103F.48, Subd. 3.

Buffer and Alternative Practices Benefits

Buffers provide multiple benefits for water quality, including stabilizing the bank, absorbing nutrients, preventing erosion and sedimentation into ditches, streams, rivers and lakes, and filtering pollutants such as excess pesticides and fertilizers. In some situations, alternative practices will provide comparable water quality benefits and may be more appropriate to fit site conditions and land management objectives.


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