Can I plant a less diverse mix? Can I plant only grasses?
The number of types of prairie plants sown (“species richness”) and the amount of each type that is present in seed mixes is a management decision. How the plants will function and the seed mix costs are two primary considerations.
Will the prairie strips make my crops more weedy?
Most prairie plants will not become weeds in crop fields where annual crops are grown and subjected to conventional weed management practices.
Will crop spray drift kill the plants in the prairie strips?
Spray drift definitely can harm the prairie strips in the first several years as the young plants are establishing, but mature prairie plants are more resilient. Mature perennial plants have deep root systems with substantial stored energy reserves, which tend to allow them to bounce back from incidental drift.
Does it matter what herbicides I use on my crops before planting prairie strips?
Yes, the herbicides you use on your crops matter, especially when you are trying to establish prairie strips. Many alternatives to glyphosate will last in the soil for more than one season. There are planting restriction guidelines provided by manufacturers and you can refer to these to find out how long a herbicide will last and what crops are sensitive to it. (Prairie seedlings aren't listed separately, but would respond much like small grains, alfalfa, and clovers.) Read more about FAQ: Does it matter what herbicides I use on my crops before planting prairie strips?
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. Read more about FAQ: Will prairie strips plug tile lines?
Prairie strips are a conservation tool that can be used in both conventional and organic farming operations. In conventional farming operations, precision herbicide management is useful. Native forbs (i.e., wildflowers) in the prairie strips are broadleaf plants and can be damaged or even killed by direct contact with herbicide. Once established, native grasses and forbs have deep root systems that help create a durable, resilient plant community. Read more about FAQ: Are prairie strips only for organic operations?
Prairie strips are planted with native, perennial prairie species. Species include grasses, forbs (i.e., wildflowers), legumes, and sedges. Typically, plantings include stiff-stemmed warm season grasses (e.g., Indiangrass, big bluestem, little bluestem) and a wide range of erect forbs, including species of aster, beebalm, blazing star, bush clover, coneflower, goldenrod, and native sunflower. Read more about FAQ: What kind of plants are actually in the prairie strips?