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Frequently Asked Questions

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. 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.

FAQ: Will prairie strips plug tile lines?

Will prairie strips plug tile lines?

Perforated tile are buried under cropland to remove excess water detrimental to crop production. Farmers and landowners considering installing strips of prairie plants in their fields have asked about the possibility of roots growing into tile lines. To address this potential, Tim Younquist and Matt Helmers used video cameras to evaluate root penetration into the tile lines under prairie and continuous corn. 

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.


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