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.
Are prairie strips only for organic operations?
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.
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.
How do I find someone to seed prairie strips for me?
The Plant Iowa Native website has contact information for seed sales and technical service providers.