The Science-based Trails of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairie Strips (STRIPS) project grew significantly in 2018 to include additional farms, institutions, and regions. The STRIPS team added a new team member to help support the expanded collaboration and welcomes Omar de Kok-Mercado as their new Project Coordinator! Omar received his B.S. degree in Agronomy and M.S. in Soil Microbiology and Biochemistry from Iowa State University. He’s worked with the USDA Forest Service in Montana and most recently with the USDA-NRCS in Minnesota and Iowa. Omar will be coordinating outreach, extension, and communication activities among STRIPS team members and affiliates including organizing workshops, trainings, and events. In speaking with Omar about his new position he said, “I see the prairie strips as a means to preserve our Midwestern natural heritage while capitalizing on its ecosystem services. Prairie strips provides us with a great opportunity to strengthen our communities, both socially and ecologically, and I’m looking forward to coordinating the STRIPS team as we continue to support farmers in building resilient livelihoods.”
STRIPS extends a big welcome to Practical Farmers of Iowa, Sand County Foundation, and Tallgrass Prairie Center as new member institutions. STRIPS also welcomes Doug Davenport, a STRIPS collaborator since 2010, as STRIPS new communications consultant. Doug is excited to talk with farmers about soil, water, prairie, wildlife habitat, and conservation. Read more about Doug here.
An additional 234 acres of prairie strips were seeded in 2018, protecting 1,100 cropped acres. To date, that brings the total acreage in prairie strips up to 562 acres, protecting a total of 4,700 cropped acres. 2018 has shown that STRIPS has begun to set some deeper roots and is beginning to grow past Iowa's borders. Adopting prairie strips on 10% of farmland can reduce sediment export by 95% and reduce nitrogen export in surface runoff by 84%. The biodiversity provided by STRIPS also supports habitat for insect predators, pollinators, and birds. An established prairie can contain more than ten tons of roots per acre reducing soil erosion, retaining nutrients, and providing habitat for the soil biology that build soil structure and cycle nutrients. Small changes = BIG impact!
Thank you to all of the STRIPS collaborators, partners, funders, and stakeholders for a very successful 2018. We are looking forward to working with you to continue our mission in 2019. Happy Holidays from the STRIPS team!