Challenge #3: Poor Biodiversity and Wildlife Habitat
A decline in biodiversity, or the variety of life in an area or ecosystem, is the third challenge identified by scientist Lisa Schulte Moore. Read more about Challenge #3: Poor Biodiversity and Wildlife Habitat
Students will be able to:
- Explain challenges facing Midwestern farmers.
- Define and explain the prairie STRIPS project.
- Explain the agronomic benefits of prairie strips.
- Recommend key features of prairie strip designs.
- Identify prairie plant species and the characteristics which make them useful in achieving conservation.
Challenge #1 How can Prairie Strips reduce Soil Erosion?
The flumes pictured below are used to measure runoff from the STRIPS watersheds. Note the difference in the amount of sediment displaced between pictures 1, 2 and 3. Picture 1 represents a 100% no-till crop field with corn and soybean rotation compared to just 10% prairie treatment in picture 2 and 100% prairie in picture 3. Read more about How Prairie Strips Address Midwestern Farmer Challenges
Installation and Establishment
Prairie strips are most easily established in fields which have previously been used for tilled annual row crop production (Jarchow and Liebman, 2011). Seeding following soybeans is especially favored for prairie strip establishment because the tilled field will have a reduced seed bank of annual weed seed and the soybean stubble will decompose readily (Jarchow and Liebman, 2011).
Nonetheless, if the correct procedures are followed prairie can be easily established following any crop or land cover. Read more about Prairie Strip Installation and Establishment
The 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