Technique of the Week: Prairie STRIPS

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Last week, in the middle of a hot discussion on research that shows that adding some organic acres to a larger conventional operation can increase on farm and near farm biodiversity, Dave Walton, a Wilton, Iowa farmer brought up prairie strips, which he is considering adding to his operation.

Prairie STRIPS are a homegrown alternative to buffer strips. The farmer puts aside strips of land and plants them with local prairie grasses. For reasons that are pretty obvious, this makes for a great habitat for local birds and bugs. The research team at Iowa State is getting some pretty remarkable results.

By converting just 10% of a crop-field to diverse, native perennials farmers and landowners can reduce the amount of soil leaving their fields by 90% and the amount of nitrogen leaving their fields through surface runoff by up to 85%. Prairie strips also provide potential habitat for biodiversity, including pollinators and other beneficial insects.

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