Welcome to the Prairie Strips training module. This self-guided resource is intended for consulting professionals, technical or extension staff, and those interested in learning more about the prairie strips practice. The seven chapters listed below include descriptions, visuals, and videos that will educate participants about some of the major challenges that Midwestern farmers and landowners face when it comes to maintaining ecosystem services and how prairie strips can be used as a multi-benefit tool to mitigate these challenges.
Challenge #1: Soil Erosion from Agricultural Fields
Land degradation due to soil erosion
Soil erosion adversely impacts agronomic productivity. Additionally, soil erosion negatively impacts the environment, food security, and quality of life. The effects of soil erosion have both on-site and off-site impacts. For example, on-site impacts may include reduced crop yield and increased nutrient loss, while off-site impacts may include water contamination and increased food prices.
Three reasons why soil erosion is an important issue:
Challenge #3: Poor Biodiversity and Wildlife Habitat
A decline in biodiversity, is the third challenge identified by scientist Lisa Schulte Moore.
“While our current agricultural system achieves record productivity in crops and livestock, it is also associated with serious environmental shortcomings, including declines in water quality and biodiversity, increased flooding and greenhouse gas emissions, and even degradation of the foundation of agricultural productivity: the soil” (Schulte Moore, 2014).
Considerations for Prairie Plant Species Selection
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.
The Cost of Prairie Strips
To spread the word and adoption of this Best Management Practice (BMP), the Prairie Strips Team relies on the influence of multiple entities to educate Midwestern communities; these include partner organizations, cooperating landowners, scientists, educators, and extension specialists to visually display signage, conduct research, host educational field days and provide extension workshops.
Prairie strips are a farmland conservation practice that deliver enormous soil, water and nutrient benefits while increasing wildlife habitat. Prairie strips: