Our cooperators are best at explaining why prairie strips are a practical farmland conservation tool. We've collected a few of their testimonials on this new web page. Check back in the future for more. Read more about Why Prairie Strips? Our Farmer & Farm Landowner Cooperators Explain
Will prairie strips help pollinators?
Prairie strips provide both abundant and diverse flowering plants to agricultural landscapes, which are essential for supporting honey bees and conserving wild bees and butterflies. Flowers provide critical food resources for these insects: nectar for adult bees and butterflies, and pollen for the young bees. Furthermore, a growing body of scientific literature indicates that bee health is improved when they are provided a diverse diet of plants.
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?
Access to a variety of inexpensive, safe, and high quality foods can be credited to the productivity and efficiency of grain crop production techniques used today. However, the agronomic techniques used to manage the majority of grain acres are associated with some negative effects, including soil erosion, impaired water quality, and declining biodiversity in the Midwestern United States. Read more about Chapter 2: Introduction
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: Read more about Challenge #1: Soil Erosion from Agricultural Fields
Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy
“The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy is a science and technology-based framework to assess and reduce nutrients to Iowa waters and the Gulf of Mexico. It is designed to direct efforts to reduce nutrients in surface water from both point and nonpoint sources in a scientific, reasonable and cost effective manner” (ISU, 2017b). Read more about A Nutrient Reduction Strategy with Matt Helmers
Challenge #2: Reduced Water Quality
Nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, and suspended soil sediments have greatly diminished water quality (USEPA, 2017a). Polluted water with unusually high concentrations of dissolved or suspended materials, or small amounts of highly toxic materials can be detrimental and sometimes even deadly to living things. Civilization has many uses for and is dependent on high-quality water (Troeh et al., 2004).
Major agricultural contributions to reduced water quality include: Read more about Challenge #2: Reduced Water Quality
Prairie Strips - One Possible Solution
The integration of prairie strips into row crops is one possible solution to address the challenges facing Midwest farmers. Read more about Chapter 4: Prairie Strips - One Possible Solution