The grass strip of an agricultural plot is an agroecological infrastructure formed by a linear plant cover. Depending on its location and its floristic composition, it participates in different functions including preserving biodiversity and limiting pollution of watercourses.
Grass strips placed on or near the edge of a field, perpendicular to the slope, help limit soil erosion by curbing runoff and improving water infiltration. Made up mainly of herbaceous species, they also act as an ecological corridor for biodiversity, by offering a refuge area for crop auxiliaries and flora.
The riparian grass strips, established along watercourses or wetlands and made up of herbaceous species or shrubs, help limit water pollution by capturing and degrading fertilizers and pesticides.
In the context of the CAP, the installation of a “buffer strip” (grass strip with or without hedges) at the edge of watercourses constitutes a criterion of conditionality to the payment of aid. In this case, the grass strips are subject to specific requirements of location, size and maintenance (5 meters wide minimum ; spring planting; prohibition of an exclusive composition of Fabaceae; prohibition of plowing and applying fertilizers). Finally, grinding mulching is their most common mode of maintenance, except where they can be used as fodder.
Grass strips, thanks to their different roles, constitute a tool for the agroecological transition. They help protect the agro-ecosystem and form a link between natural and agricultural landscapes.
References to explore
Minnesota department of natural resources. 2007. Vegetation Buffer Strips in Agricultural Areas. 2p. Accessed on 04/04/2020.
Scottish government. 2017. Grass Strips in Arable Fields. Accessed on 04/04/2020.
United states department of agriculture. 2020. Buffer Strips: Common Sense Conservation. Accessed on 04/04/2020
Vollstedt Megan. 2020. Enhanced Cost Share Available for Prairie Strips. Successful Farming. Accessed on 04/04/2020