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
Prairie strips are a farmland conservation practice that uses strategically placed native prairie plantings in crop fields. The practice has been tested by the STRIPS team since 2007 on experimental plots at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge and increasingly on commercial farms across Iowa. Here we present our responses to the Frequently Asked Questions we receive on prairie strips at conferences and field days, and through email. The information was prepared by team members, and will be updated over time as needed, as we continue to learn. The answers below are general in nature, and may not apply in specific situations. Resources are provided with each answer. Read more about Frequently Asked Questions
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.
Prairie strips are a conservation practice that uses strategically placed native prairie plantings in crop fields.
The practice was developed and tested by the STRIPS (Science-based Trials of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairie Strips) team at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa. Read more about FAQ: What are prairie strips?
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?
Why would I plant prairie strips on my farm?
Prairie strips are a new conservation practice that deliver enormous soil, water and nutrient benefits while increasing wildlife habitat. Prairie strips: Read more about FAQ: Why would I plant prairie strips on my farm?
In Iowa, on-farm: Several Iowa State University Research and Demonstration Farms host prairie strips, including the Armstrong Memorial Farm near Lewis, McNay Memorial Farm near Chariton, Neeley-Kinyon Memorial Farm near Greenfield, and the Southeast Farm near Crawfordsville. These farms are open to the public for viewing during business hours. On-farm implementations of prairie strips at private farms are periodically featured at field days organized by either the STRIPS team or partner organizations. Check for announcements on this website or follow us on Twitter (@prairiestrips) to find out about these events.
In Iowa, original research site: In Iowa, you can visit the original STRIPS research sites at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, but please check in at the refuge’s headquarters, the Prairie Learning Center, for directions and other information before visiting the sites. Signs directing refuge visitors to the STRIPS sites are being developed. Additional public sites are under development, so stay tuned!
Beyond Iowa: Beyond Iowa, farmers and farmland owners have used native species for planting in-field buffer strips among row crops, often under the USDA NRCS Contour Buffer Strip standard. We are not currently partnering to provide field tours of location where farmers or farmland owners are using prairie strips, which combine consideration watershed area and water flow paths, highly diverse native plantings (~30 species of grasses and wildflowers), and in-field contour buffer and edge-of-field filter strips. Work is underway with partners in Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin to implement research and demonstration areas with prairie strips. Read more about FAQ: Where can I see prairie strips?