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Objecting all the way, most farmers meet buffer deadline

Objecting all the way, most farmers meet buffer deadline

Along a tributary of the Redwood River in Pipestone County in southwest Minnesota, Tim Madsen pokes at the vegetation in the buffer strip he installed last summer.

"This would be alfalfa," he said. "And I believe this probably, I'm going to guess, would be bromegrass."

Madsen is one of many farmers in the state who will meet a Nov. 1 deadline to have an unplanted strip of vegetation between his crops and the water.

The idea is that the vegetation will filter cropland runoff; removing some of the pollutants in the water before it reaches the stream. But true to the on-going debate across Minnesota about the contentious law pushed by Gov. Mark Dayton, Madsen is not entirely sold on the buffer idea. Mainly he wonders how much good it will do.

"I think it's kind of a small band-aid, put it that way." Scanning the horizon, taking in a mile or more of farmland, Madsen agrees that buffers help reduce the amount of farm pollution entering the water. But he just can't see how a 50-foot grass strip can do much to filter the rivers of runoff a summer downpour can generate across miles of farm fields.

He built the buffer anyway, mainly to avoid future headaches.