This study compares the physical and economic cost effectiveness of vegetative filter strips in reducing sediment loadings in a small Indiana watershed versus micro-targeting. The cost efficiency of each program is compared. Sediment loadings are estimated for a typical midwestern watershed area using ANSWERS, an event based distributed parameter model.

The results of this analysis indicate that a filter strip program in the Finley Creek watershed reduced sediment yields by 27 percent. An equivalent micro-targeted program taking 11 percent of the most erosive cropland elements out of production would reduce sediment yields by 31 percent. The information intensive micro-targeting program reduces sediment yields by amounts only slightly higher than a filter strip program. Using a land rental rate of $85 per acre, the filter strip program costs $91 per ton of sediment abated and the micro-targeting program costs $78 per ton of sediment abated, a 17 percent difference in cost. Since identifying ephemeral and perennial channels is much easier than identifying upland acres contributing the most sediment, a filter strip program will likely have lower administrative and enforcement costs. Thus a filter strip program, which reduces sediment yields nearly as much as the micro-targeting program, may be more cost effective when considering administrative and enforcement costs of each program.

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