Frequently Asked Questions

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Prairie strips at NSNWR by Meghann JarchowPrairie strips is 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 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?


More resources

Other resources from STRIPS:

Other groups:

  • 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.