Download a ISU Extension report on how targeting key portions of row-crop fields to perennial vegetation can lead to dramatic improvements in environmental benefits on farmland:
(February, 2015) STRIPS team is now working with Eastern Iowa Airport and the University of Iowa to achieve both water quality and homegrown bioenergy production goals. Click here to the airport's press release on this exciting new development.
Prairie 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. Here we present our responses to the Frequently Asked Questions we receive on prairie strips at conferences and field days, and through email. 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.
The STRIPS project began in 2003, when Iowa State University scientists began discussing the opportunity to test the effects of integrating restored prairie in crop fields with managers at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge. Together, the scientists and refuge managers established four different treatments on 12 small watersheds at Neal Smith in 2007. As of 2012, we're now also working on a growing number of commercial farm fields across Iowa and northern Missouri. Read more about the research background, farmer collaborators, and research topics here.
Read about prairie strips in Corn & Soybean Digest. STRIPS Farmer Liaison Tim Youngquist says, “Each field is unique; each farmer’s entrepreneurial spirit is different. We consider equipment width and ‘farmability’ to avoid dramatically changing a field’s existing farming pattern.”
Strategically placing a small percentage of prairie strips within agriculture fields has been shown to reduce field level soil loss. However, less is known about in-field soil movement both erosion and deposition. Also, with the potential for increasingly stronger rainstorms and hence higher runoff, there is a need to obtain new insights about prairie strips design and its influence on sediment dynamics.