The Iowa Watershed Approach
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What is perennial cover?
Perennial cover includes establishing and maintaining permanent vegetation, such as native or introduced grasses, legumes and forbs. The enhanced root system increases water infiltration, reduces and slows surface runoff, and decreases the downstream flooding risk by reducing the streamflow by 40%. Perennial cover also prevents soil erosion and sedimentation. Aboveground biomass and root production builds soil organic matter and improves soil health. Permanent vegetation stabilizes excess nutrients, decreasing the nitrate-nitrogen load by 85% and the phosphorus load by 75%. The vegetation provides a food source and protective cover for wildlife as well as habitat for pollinator species and beneficial insects. In some cases, periodic removal, or harvest, of high value trees, herbs, nuts and fruit may be permitted.
Benning, Jamie; TeBockhorst, Kristina; and Johnson, Jason, "Perennial Cover" (2018). Extension and Outreach Publications. 433.
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