The Yellow Medicine Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and other SWCDs have been tasked to implement Minnesota’s buffer law. The law is now partially in effect. Buffer zones consisting of a minimum of 30 feet and an average of 50 feet of perennial vegetation are now required on waters that were included on Minnesota’s Buffer Protection Map. At the end of 2018, public drainage ditches that are named County, Judicial or Watershed Ditches will require 16.5’ (one rod) wide of perennial vegetation if they don’t already have a one-rod right of way easement.

There are many options to comply with this law that can work with and for your land. Some of those include cost share programs, the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), and establishing your own forage to harvest. Alfalfa is allowed exclusively in the law. Another option to comply with the law is to implement alternative practices. The annual use of cover crops, using a no-till or strip-till system or installing grass buffers around tile and culvert inlets on ditches are all acceptable alternative practices.

The SWCD can help with guidance, cost share and incentives to implement these alternative practices or to simply install the buffers. Our office also utilizes a list of diverse local vendors who are qualified and willing to provide buffer seeding services, along with other services. The SWCD also has a broadcast seeder available for rent to seed the buffers. The seeder can be attached to the back of tractor on the three-point mount. It is the goal of our staff and board of supervisors to provide the best guidance and all available options to landowners on the buffer law and all questions and goals.

While many are looking toward CRP to comply, there is currently a national acreage cap on how much land is allowed in CRP. Therefore, all land that is enrolled in CRP must be approved by the national office of the Farm Service Agency. This situation has stopped CRP in its tracks. It will be important to consider this as you make decisions about how to deal with the buffer law.

Contact Ian Olson for information on CRP and the broadcast seeder. For more information on the law and how it affects you contact Tyler Knutson at the SWCD at (320) 669-4442 x 3 or

Our website also has a lot of information on all of our programs and services. Visit to learn more and stay up to date on all Yellow Medicine SWCD has to offer and what we are working on. You can also Like Us On Facebook!

The Yellow Medicine Soil & Water Conservation District was duly organized as a governmental subdivision of this State, and a public body corporate and politic on the 17th day of April, 1950. The SWCD works with landowners in both rural and urban areas to conserve Soil and Water Resources. The SWCD is governed by locally elected officials and staffed by professionals dedicated to serving you – the public.