Runoff mitigation – Vegetative Filter Strips

Vegetative Filter Strips (VFS) are a tool to mitigate runoff of pesticides to aquatic habitats.

A VFS is located between the area where a pesticide is applied and the down gradient water body. It is to be constructed and maintained so that it reduces runoff from the adjacent field of application.

When indicated on a pesticide product label, a VFS of 10 metres is required. Other jurisdictions (such as provinces) may require larger VFS. The VFS is to be composed of grasses and may also include shrubs, trees or other vegetation. A VFS is designed to allow runoff from the agricultural field to be slowed. When the runoff is slowed, sediment in the runoff water settles out and does not reach the aquatic habitat. The VFS must be maintained in order to ensure it continues to work as designed.

A VFS is separate from requirements for Spray Buffer Zones, which mitigate risk to aquatic habitats when pesticides are applied by spraying.

The design of the VFS should follow existing federal or provincial guidance. Guidance can be found at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada on its Riparian Buffer webpage.

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