Prairie strips are a farmland conservation practice that uses strategically placed native prairie plantings in crop fields. The practice has been tested by the STRIPS team since 2007 on experimental plots at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge and increasingly on commercial farms across Iowa. The information was prepared by team members, and will be updated over time as needed, as we continue to learn. The answers below are general in nature, and may not apply in specific situations. Resources are provided with each answer.
Why plant prairie strips?
Why would I plant prairie strips?
Why did you start your experiment at a National Wildlife Refuge?
Will prairie strips help increase my crop yield?
Will prairie strips help pollinators?
Will prairie strips eliminate erosion completely? Do I still need grass waterways once I plant prairie strips?
What are prairie strips?
What are prairie strips?
How are prairie strips different from contour buffers and grass strips?
Are prairie strips only for organic operations?
Do I have to plant prairie plants? Can I just use brome?
What kind of plants are actually in the prairie strips? Are milkweeds included?
Where can I see prairie strips?
How-to questions about prairie strips
How can I get prairie strips on my farm?
How do I establish and manage prairie strips?
How do I plant prairie strips into soybean and corn stubble?
How do I plant prairie strips into cool season sod?
How long does it take to get mature prairie strips?
When is the best time of year to plant prairie strips?
How do I find seed for prairie strips?
Can I plant a less diverse mix? Can I plant only grasses?
What do prairie strips cost? Is there cost-share available?
How do I find someone to seed prairie strips for me?
How does the placement of prairie strips affect water quality gains?
How long will the prairie strips work? Won't dirt pile up quickly above the prairie strip?
How do the prairie strips treat sub-surface water flow?
Will prairie strips plug tile lines?
How do I take care of my prairie strips? Do I have to burn the strips? How do I control weeds and invasive within the strips?
Will the prairie strips make my crops more weedy?
Should I be concerned about Palmer amaranth in my prairie strips?
Does it matter what herbicides I use on my crops before planting prairie strips?
Will crop spray drift kill the plants in the prairie strips?
Will driving on the strips kill the prairie plants?
Can I bale my prairie strips?
Can I graze cattle on my prairie strips?
How will butterflies and bees find the prairie strips?
How do we choose native species for my grass waterway?
How do I find more information about prairie strips?
Other resources from STRIPS:
- Assessing the Environmental Benefits of Prairie Strips, an education tool for middle school and high school educators
- Prairie Strips in One Minute: A Six Part Series, six quick one minute videos covering the basics of prairie management.
- Prairie Strips: Small Changes, Big Impacts, a four-page fact sheet for a general audience about the STRIPS research project [revised May 2020]
- Watch Restoring the Balance: Prairie Conservation Strips, a 12-minute video with four out-take interviews about the enthusiasm surrounding STRIPS [September 2014]
- Farming with Prairie Strips, a two-page color fact sheet that answers common questions farmers have about prairie strips [revised May 2020]
- A Landowner's Guide to Prairie Strips, a four-page color fact sheet that answers common questions landowners have about prairie strips [revised May 2020]
- The Cost of Prairie Strips, a two-page color fact sheet that explains estimated costs to install and maintain prairie strips [revised May 2020]
- Installing Prairie Strips: Frequently Asked Questions, 8-page booklet with more technical information and flow charts regarding the installation of prairie strips [revised May 2020]
- Incorporating Prairies into Multifunctional Landscapes, a 26-page color publication that looks at ways to incorporate prairies into farms, how they affect nearby crops, benefits they offer, and resources to establish your own prairie
- A Targeted Approach for Improving Environmental Quality, a 20-page color publication that makes the case for strategic use of trees, prairies and other perennials in key parts of the landscape to result in multiple environmental benefits and only a small change in overall agricultural production
- Iowans' Perspectives on Targeted Approaches for Multiple-Benefit Agriculture, a 14-page report summarizing the results of a survey conducted to measure Iowans' support for a paradigm shift in agrienvironmental policy
- Iowa State University Research and Demonstration Farms hosts several commercial scale implementations of prairie strips that are open to the public during business hours.
- Iowa Tallgrass Prairie Center hosts how-to information on prairie establishment and management. See the 'Prairie On Farms' project.
- Plant Iowa Native links to dealers where prairie seed may be purchased and to technical service providers who can help with prairie installation and management.
- Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge has a mission to actively protect, restore, reconstruct and manage the diverse native ecosystems of tallgrass prairie, oak savanna, and sedge meadow. Educational opportunities are available throughout the refuge, but the Prairie Learning Center is a good place to start. The refuge hosts the original STRIPS research experiment.