Kanabec SWCD is a provider of technical and financial resources to landowners to implement conservation practices to protect our natural resources. We are governed by an elected five-member Board of Supervisors that sets priorities and oversees outcomes.

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Healthy Soil is a Foundation for Farm Success

Managing soil health is one of the most effective ways for farmers to increase crop productivity and profitability while improving the environment. Positive results are often realized within the first year, and last well into the future.


Soil is made up of air, water, decayed plant residue, organic matter from living and dead organisms, and minerals, such as sand, silt and clay. Increasing soil organic matter typically improves soil health since organic matter affects several critical soil fuInterseeded Cover Cropnctions. Healthy soils are also porous, which allows air and water to move freely through them. This balance ensures a suitable habitat for the myriad of soil organisms that support growing plants.


It’s not difficult to improve soil health. Here’s how: till the soil as little as possible; grow as many different species of plants as possible through rotations and a diverse mixture of cover crops; keep living plants in the soil as long as possible with crops and cover crops; and keep the soil surface covered with residue year round.


Healthy soils lead to:

Increased Production – Healthy soils typically have more organic matter and soil organisms which improve soil structure, aeration, water retention, drainage and nutrient availability. Organic matter holds more nutrients in the soil until the plants need them.

Increased Profits – HProfitable Soilealthy soils may require fewer passes over fields because they are only minimally tilled and they aren’t over-reliant upon excessive nutrient inputs to grow crops. Healthy soils can increase farmers’ profit margins by reducing labor and expenses for fuel, and optimizing inputs.

Natural Resource Protection – Healthy soils hold more available water. The soil’s water-holding capacity reduces runoff that can cause flooding, and increases the availability of water to plants during droughts. Good infiltration and less need for fertilizers and pesticides keep nutrients and sediment from loading into lakes, rivers, and streams. Groundwater is also protected because there is less leaching from healthy soils.

Additionally, fewer trips across fields with farm machinery mean fewer emissions and better air quality.

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New DNR Buffer Map

Kanabec Buffer MapThe Minnesota DNR has released the final map of public waters and drainage ditches that will need permanent vegetative buffers.


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In 2015 and 2016, the Minnesota Legislature passed and the Governor signed what is known as the ‘Buffer Law’. This state statute requires a strip of permanent vegetation along public waters and ditches. Public waters, including streams, rivers, and lakes, will require a buffer of 50 feet; ditches operated by a public drainage authority (Kanabec County) must have a 16.5 foot buffer strip.

Buffer Width RequirementsKanabec SWCD is responsible for assessing compliance with requirements. We will examine aerial photography to make preliminary determinations. Those appearing to lack the required buffers will be contacted directly in early 2017. Landowners needing assistance are encouraged to contact us directly for technical guidance.

Kanabec Buffer Map

Use the interactive public waters and ditches map to check your property

Waters Requiring Buffer Strips

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources was tasked with creating a statewide map of all public waters and ditches. Working with each county, the DNR assembled the required data and created an interactive map of waters requiring a buffer. Visit http://arcgis.dnr.state.mn.us/gis/buffersviewer/ to see the most current version.

Public waters were defined by a public process undertaken by the DNR in the early 1980’s. These waters are protected by state statute as a shared resource for all Minnesotans. The buffer legislation was enacted to limit runoff of sediment, nutrients, and chemicals from agricultural fields.


Vegetative Buffers Help Keep Water Clean and Healthy



Permanent Vegetation

To qualify as permanent vegetation, a buffer strip must have little to no exposed soil. Producers are permitted to graze livestock or hay the grass, so long as proper management practices are followed. Noxious weeds must be eliminated. Turf grass (mowed lawn) is similarly allowed. However, Kanabec SWCD encourages landowners to leave no-mow strips, preferably planted with native grasses and wildflowers.


Establishment Deadlines

Public Waters – November 1, 2017

Public Ditches – November 1, 2018


SWCD Buffer Resources


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