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FAQ: How are prairie strips different from contour buffers and grass strips?

How are prairie strips different from contour buffers and grass strips?


Contour buffers are typically planted with fixed widths. In contrast, we vary the width of the prairie strips based on the amount of water they intercept, with the goal of treating all of the runoff leaving the crop field. Where more water is flowing down-slope, prairie strips should be wider, and where less water is flowing down-slope, the strips can be narrower.


Read more about FAQ: How are prairie strips different from contour buffers and grass strips?

Research Overview

Helmers-Watkins-Liebman NSNWRThe 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 more about Research Overview

Small changes = BIG impact!

STRIPS stands for Science-based Trials of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairie Strips. The STRIPS project is composed of a team of scientists, educators, farmers, and extension specialists working on the prairie strips farmland conservation practice. Our research shows that prairie strips are an affordable option for farmers and farm landowners seeking to garner multiple benefits. By converting 10% of a crop field to diverse, native perennials farmers and farmland owners can reduce the amount of soil leaving their fields by 95% and the amount of nitrogen leaving their fields through surface runoff by up to 85%. Prairie strips also provide habitat for wildlife, including pollinators and other beneficial insects.

Need more information on just what prairie strips are? Click here.

Or visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.

To watch a short movie about the history, design, and benefits of prairie strips please click here.

To find out about our team, mission, vision, and guiding principles: Read more.

Interested in implementing prairie strips on your land? Contact prairiestrips@iastate.edu today!  Read more about Small changes = BIG impact!

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