How will prairie strips improve
Prairie strips keep
vital soil resources in crop fi elds.
Planting just 10% of a row-cropped
watershed in native prairie, strategically
located on the contours and foot slope,
reduces sediment transport by 95%
compared to cropland without prairie
Deep-rooted prairie plants
increase soil organic matter and
improve infiltration, while their
stiff, upright stems slow surface runoff
and help hold soil in place during rain
events. Prairie strips protect water quality,
reducing overland fl ow by 60% and
nitrogen and phosphorus transport by
90%. They have no impact on crop yield
other than the land taken out of production
. Healthy soil and clean water provide
environmental benefi ts that protect
the future of Iowa agriculture.
How do prairie strips increase biodiversity?
Small prairie strips increase the diversity of
plants, insects, songbirds and wildlife in the
watershed. Researchers documented a 380%
increase in native plant species in cropland
planted with prairie strips compared to entirely
cropped watersheds. Prairie plants provide
year-round habitat and food for beneficial
insects, which provide pollination services
and prey upon crop pests.
Insect diversity in cropland with prairie
strips equals that of nearby prairie
restorations. Prairie strips also offer
habitat to songbirds and wildlife,
increasing the land’s economic potential
as a site for hunting and birdwatching.
Greater numbers and species of birds
are consistently found in agricultural
fields with small patches of prairie,
including some species of statewide
conservation concern, such as the field
sparrow, dickcissel and eastern meadowlark.
Studies have found that even small patches
of grassland habitat within row-cropped
landscapes, especially if several patches
are present, can play a big role in
maintaining these species.