Incorporating ecosystem services into Midwest agriculture
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