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Biomass Harvest from Riparian Buffers Won’t Impede Water Quality Protection, Says Study

Penn State University researchers conducted a study that compared six different riparian buffer scenarios featuring grass and trees and explored the potential for biomass harvest from them. The researchers suggest that farmers would be more likely to install riparian buffers on their properties if they were allowed to harvest biomass from them, which is currently not allowed under Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program regulations. This research tested how well buffers performed when switchgrass and swamp willow trees were harvested from them. The results of this Pennsylvania study showed that harvesting vegetation from the buffer only minimally impacted water quality compared with the performance of unharvested buffers. They found that the location of the buffer was a key factor in its water-quality protection performance.