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Conservation Practices

Conservation practices serve to improve and protect farmland, soil, water quality, forestland and wildlife habitat. Buffers, cover crops, crop rotation, and the other management strategies listed below are common conservation practices adopted by land managers in Western Oregon.


Buffers are vegetative strips provide a variety of natural services. They trap soil to reduce erosion and polluted runoff. They provide wildlife habitat, increase soil productivity. They also protect areas from winds and flooding, and enhance the property’s aesthetics. The use of native plants will reduce maintenance and increase the buffer’s effectiveness. Native plants can be purchased from Benton SWCD’s Annual Native Plant Sales.

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Fava beans used as a cover crop in a raised bed.

Cover Crops

Grasses, legumes, forbs and other herbaceous plants can be used to provide seasonal cover on cropland when the soil would otherwise be bare. Cover crops reduce erosion caused by wind and water, add soil organic matter and contribute to good soil structure and water infiltration. Cover crops suppress weeds, help retain soil moisture, and attract beneficial insects.

Crop Rotation

Crop rotation is a system of growing different crops in planned succession on the same field. Crop rotation helps suppress weeds, manage soil nutrients, and break disease cycles.

Grazing Management

Grazing management maximizes production and improves grazing lands. Common practices include management of herd size, fencing, livestock water systems, grazing rotations, and mixed forage plantings.

Nutrient Management

Nutrient management requires application of the correct amount and form of plant nutrients at the right time to optimize crop yield and minimize impacts on water quality. Nutrient management can save you money because it can prevent overapplication of costly fertilizers. Test your manure for nutrient content so that you can apply it at an agronomic rate.

Pest Management

Pest management is a customized system to reduce crop and environmental damage with environmentally sensitive strategies of prevention, avoidance, monitoring, and suppression.