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.
Will driving on the strips kill the prairie plants?
Driving on prairie strips will create disturbance and could disrupt the native plant community. Many invasive weeds are more tolerant to disturbance than prairie plants, and driving on the strips could create an environment where weeds can out-compete the prairie plants. Disturbed areas also may reduce the prairie diversity to only a few native species.
Can I bale my prairie strips?
Prairie strips could serve as a source of hay if harvested later in the summer, but the plant species composition may shift. Managers may find it difficult to maintain a diversity of grass and forb species.
Can I graze cattle on my prairie strips?
This is an open question for the STRIPS team, which we hope to answer soon. At least two of our farmer cooperators are planning to graze their prairie strips: one is developing a method to rotationally graze the prairie strips and another releases cattle onto his whole field after fall corn harvest. Stay tuned for research results; in the meantime, you might try it, being careful not to allow livestock to congregate in any area long enough to create bare ground.
How will butterflies and bees find the prairie strips? Will they die when they get to the strips? Will treated seed kill the wildlife in the strips?
Butterflies and bees are attracted to the colors and scents of flowers within the strips. Flying above the crop pollinators will be able to locate the strips using these cues.
Will prairie strips help increase my crop yield?
To date, we’ve seen no effects of prairie strips on yields in adjacent cropped areas. Of course, converting cropland to prairie strips will reduce the amount of land that is cropped. Payments for prairie strips from federal conservation programs and other sources can help offset this cost.