Federal conservation program rewards farmers for prairie strips

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Tyler Chalfant | January 21st, 2020

A new law allows farmers to collect federal conservation payments for installing prairie strips. Researchers from Iowa State University who have studied the environmental benefits of prairie strips for the past decade advised the U.S. Department of Agriculture and influenced this decision. 

Prairie strips are small, but strategically placed, pieces of prairie planted within corn and soybean fields. The researchers found that converting just 10 percent of cropped land to prairie reduces soil loss by 95 percent, phosphorus loss in surface runoff by 70 percent, and provides a habitat for birds, pollinators, and other wildlife.

The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), passed in 1985, pays farmers annually who remove sensitive land from production and plant species that improve environmental health and quality. The 2018 Farm Bill renewed the CRP and for the first time included prairie strips as a conservation practice that farmers can claim benefits from, beginning in fiscal year 2019.

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