Phosphorus retention, erosion protection and farmers’ perceptions of riparian buffer zones with grass and natural vegetation: Case studies from South-Eastern Norway
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionAmbio. 2020, 49 (11), 1838-1849. 10.1007/s13280-020-01361-5
Phosphorus retention and bank erosion was investigated in two types of buffer zones in cereal fields in Norway: zones used for grass production and zones with natural vegetation. Farmers’ views on the two types of buffer zones were collected through questionnaires and indepth interviews. Our results indicate that the grassed buffer zones had higher levels of plant-available phosphorus and lower infiltration rates than the natural ones. Bank erosion was higher in zones with grass production than those with trees. Interviews with farmers revealed diverging opinions on the zones. Most farmers were sceptical to natural vegetation with trees, whereas farmers who had already planted trees in the riparian zones were generally satisfied. Buffer zones can have many different functions, and we conclude that a holistic approach is needed when assessing the usefulness of this measure, taking into account water quality, biodiversity and the production of food, fodder and biomass.