What are prairie strips?
The CP-43 Prairie Strips practice is a CRP CLEAR initiative and is intended to provide benefits to the environment without removing large areas of active, agricultural production. Prairie strips should be strategically placed in order to maximize benefits. They can be placed through or between crop fields but are also ideal for areas that are not useful for crop production such as terrace channels, eroded hillsides, along waterways, on pivot corners or in low-lying, water-bogged areas. The STRIPS research team at Iowa State University has shown that the prairie strips practice is one of the most affordable and environmentally beneficial agricultural conservation practices available.
Prairie strips are composed of diverse perennial vegetation composed of native grasses and wildflowers and range from 30-120 feet in width. They must include stiff-stemmed grasses and erect wildflower species with deep roots because these are most effective in providing resistance to water flow and sediment movement.
What is the purpose of the prairie strip practice?
Prairie strips reduce soil loss, reduce phosphorus and nitrogen runoff into waterways, and promote native biodiversity by providing food and habitat to pollinators, birds and other wildlife.
Benefits to Farmers
Prairie strips provide buffers for wind and rain, reduce loss of topsoil, and improve soil health. They will provide water conservation by helping to retain water in the topsoil. The width of prairie strips is based on the amount of water they intercept. Where more water is flowing down-slope, prairie strips should be wider, and where less water is flowing down-slope, the prairie strips can be narrower. They also preserve soil fertility of cropland by reducing runoff of fertilizers. In addition, the enhanced biodiversity may mean more beneficial insects such as lady beetles and lacewings which can help control crop insect pests, and native pollinators may also enhance crop yields.
Planting prairie strips
Prairie strips can be planted in spring or in late fall as a dormant planting. It can take three or more years to fully achieve a mature plant community. Landowners can help cover the costs of installing STRIPS by applying for cost-share support at their local USDA Service Center.
What are the requirements for prairie strips?
Elk Mound Seed can create a custom prairie strip mix for your project. The requirements for prairie strips will vary by state. Contact your local USDA Service Center and send us the specifications for your mix. We’d be glad to provide a quote