Iowa’s plentiful agriculture draws on the diminishing heritage of native prairies: rich soils, biodiversity, cleaned water and controlled erosion – services that are impaired by today’s agricultural practices. Are there practices that mix row-crop agriculture and prairie to develop win/win systems? The 6,400-acre Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Jasper County in central Iowa provided a unique opportunity for researchers to test practices on a "whole" watershed. Read more about FAQ: Why did you start your experiment at a National Wildlife Refuge?
Why would I plant prairie strips on my farm?
Prairie strips are a new conservation practice that deliver enormous soil, water and nutrient benefits while increasing wildlife habitat. Prairie strips: Read more about FAQ: Why would I plant prairie strips on my farm?
In Iowa, on-farm: Several Iowa State University Research and Demonstration Farms host prairie strips, including the Armstrong Memorial Farm near Lewis, McNay Memorial Farm near Chariton, Neeley-Kinyon Memorial Farm near Greenfield, and the Southeast Farm near Crawfordsville. These farms are open to the public for viewing during business hours. On-farm implementations of prairie strips at private farms are periodically featured at field days organized by either the STRIPS team or partner organizations. Check for announcements on this website or follow us on Twitter (@prairiestrips) to find out about these events.
In Iowa, original research site: In Iowa, you can visit the original STRIPS research sites at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, but please check in at the refuge’s headquarters, the Prairie Learning Center, for directions and other information before visiting the sites. Signs directing refuge visitors to the STRIPS sites are being developed. Additional public sites are under development, so stay tuned!
Beyond Iowa: Beyond Iowa, farmers and farmland owners have used native species for planting in-field buffer strips among row crops, often under the USDA NRCS Contour Buffer Strip standard. We are not currently partnering to provide field tours of location where farmers or farmland owners are using prairie strips, which combine consideration watershed area and water flow paths, highly diverse native plantings (~30 species of grasses and wildflowers), and in-field contour buffer and edge-of-field filter strips. Work is underway with partners in Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin to implement research and demonstration areas with prairie strips. Read more about FAQ: Where can I see prairie strips?