Newtown Square, PA, October 2, 2017 – A clean white plastic flume in an Iowa soybean field is testimony to a novel and possibly heretical idea: prairie plants, once plowed under by farmers growing corn and soybeans in the Midwest, yield benefits for farmers as well as the environment when integrated with rowcrops.
The flume is just one of many used on and near the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge east of Des Moines, Iowa, over the course of a decade of research called “Science-based Trials of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairie Strips,” or STRIPS. Without strips of prairie plants arching down the sloped field of soybeans, the flume would likely have held several inches of soil after a heavy rain.
The STRIPS research team is led by Iowa State University, the USDA Forest Service, Leopold Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. A paper published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) describes research quantifying the effects of integrating strips of native prairie species amid corn […]