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?
Should I be concerned about Palmer amaranth in my prairie strips?
Palmer amaranth is a noxious and aggressive weed you should keep watch for in your crop environment, but you need not be overly concerned about it in your prairie strip. Read more about FAQ: Should I be concerned about Palmer amaranth?
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?
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