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Individual Highlight

Incorporating ecosystem services into Midwest agriculture

Photo of Prairie strip embedded in an agricultural (corn) watershed.  The prairie strips increase nutrient and sediment retention, reduce runoff, and increase biodiversityPrairie strip embedded in an agricultural (corn) watershed. The prairie strips increase nutrient and sediment retention, reduce runoff, and increase biodiversitySnapshot : Science-based Trials of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairie Strips (STRIPS) is transforming the way farmers conduct agriculture in the Midwest. STRIPS strategically integrates small strips of native prairie into rowcrop agriculture to achieve a greater number of benefits, including reduced soil erosion and better habitat for birds, pollinators, and other insects.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Kolka, Randy 
Research Location : Mainly Iowa, but also have sites in Wisconsin and Missouri now.
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2017
Highlight ID : 1194

Summary

Science-based Trials of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairie Strips (STRIPS) is transforming the way farmers conduct agriculture in the Midwest. STRIPS strategically integrates small strips of native prairie into rowcrop agriculture to achieve a greater number of benefits, including reduced soil erosion and better habitat for birds, pollinators, and other insects. Forest Service researchers recently implemented STRIPS 2, which is placing prairie strips in actively managed row crop systems across Iowa. Currently more than 30 actively managed farms have implemented STRIPS, with that number growing daily. Wide use of STRIPS has the potential to decrease nutrient inputs to the Gulf of Mexico and to reduce the hypoxia, or oxygen-deprived, zone. Prairie strips also enhance habitat for biodiversity, including birds, pollinators and other beneficial insects, reducing the need for pesticides. A partnership led by Iowa State University, the Leopold Center, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Forest Service's Northern Research Station has resulted in many presentations on STRIPS to farmers, stakeholders, farm-related agencies and agribusinesses. The partnership has also led to 26 peer-reviewed publications (including a paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), numerous articles in the popular press including The New York Times and The Washington Post, and a handbook highlighting the benefits and methods of integrating strips into row crops.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • State and Private Forestry
  • Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture CropLife Foundation Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance Iowa Soybean Association Prairie Rivers of Iowa Sand County Foundation The Eastern Iowa Airport Trees Forever University of Iowa Biomass Fuel Project University of Northern Iowa Tallgrass Prairie Center University of Wisconsin Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems USDA-ARS National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment US Fish and Wildlife Service US Geological Survey Whiterock Conservancy

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