Kasey Dresser| May 13, 2019
This weeks segment looks at a study from Iowa State researching prairie strips on farm fields.
New research will test the impacts of prairie strips on farm fields over time.
This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.
Planting strips of native prairie on farms can limit erosion and provide habitat for wildlife, but how much time passes before those benefits take hold? Will the benefits remain if that land is re-planted with corn or soy?
Iowa State University researchers received an over $700,000 grant to study those questions over the next three years. To do it, they’ll plant some existing row crop areas in Iowa and Missouri with prairie plants, and vice versa.
The researchers will use buried tea bags to measure biological activity in the soil. Bags that decay more quickly indicate higher, healthier rates of decomposition. They will also create and test a computer model of statewide topsoil depth to understand how prairie strips affect erosion in surrounding areas.
Most fields have spots that produce low yields and might do better as prairie. Researchers will also weigh lost crop revenue against the economic benefits of converting those areas to prairie.
For more information, visit iowa-environmental-focus-dot-org.
From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Sara E. Mason.