What Are Prairie Strips?

What are prairie strips?

Prairie strips is a farmland conservation practice. The STRIPS team has shown that integrating small amounts of prairie into strategic locations within corn and soybean fields -- in the form of in-field contour buffer strips and edge-of-field filter strips -- can yield disproportionate benefits for soil, water, and biodiversity. Prairie is expected to provide these disproportionate benefits to a greater degree than other perennial vegetation types because of the diversity of native plant species incorporated, their deep and multilayered root systems, and  their stiff-stems that hold up in a driving rain. STRIPS research also shows that prairie strips may be one of the most affordable and environmentally beneficial agricultural conservation practices available. To hear from STRIPS scientists, farmers, and technical service providers watch our informational movie.

Disproportional Benefits

As all farmers know, not every acre of land produces the same yield. A similar idea applies to conservation: some areas of a field or landscape yield higher conservation benefits than others. By targeting those areas that have a high conservation value, farmers and landowners can gain disproportionate environmental benefits. Research shows that by converting 10% of a crop-field to diverse, native perennial vegetation, farmers and landowners can reduce sediment movement off their field by 95 percent and total phosphorous and nitrogen lost through runoff by 90 and 85 percent, respectively.  

Join the Movement!

As of 2015, over 30 farmer and farmland owner collaborators are experimenting with prairie strips to demonstrate how the practice functions on different landscapes and soil types. Are you a landowner interested in implementing prairie strips? Learn more by exploring the resources on our Practice Establishment and Management  page or contact Tim Youngquist at timyoung@iastate.edu.

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