For many years we've utilized filter strips along our major ditches. Our filter strips are about 24 feet wide, and planted with grass. Filter strips provide wildlife habitat, help to slow down erosion and keep nutrients from washing away during rainstorms.
Here is one of our filter strips after a rainy spring and a particularly heavy rainstorm.
Corn stalks were caught in the filter strip, preventing them from clogging up the ditches. The corn stalks moved across the filter strip at least 13 feet.
Smaller debris erodes even more and is trapped in the filter strip to a lesser degree. All of the trapped matter would have otherwise ended up in the ditches, drains, streams, and rivers. Eventually, some of it would have made its way out to the big lake, polluting all the way.
When this happens, ditches and drains need to be cleaned out more often. And harbors in the big lake may also need to be dredged more often. All of this costs money, and can be prevented to a certain degree by good farming practices.
It is tempting to plant right up to the edge of the field, to maximize profits. Farming is a lean business, after all. But money isn't everything, and sometimes we do things that seem counterproductive, just because it's the right thing to do.