Conventional agriculture in Iowa is extremely productive but lacks habitat for pollinators. Pollinators are generally viewed as unimportant within the agricultural landscape but can increase yields. Iowa State University researchers keyed in on prairie strips as a unique conservation practices to provide pollinator habitat, nesting bird habitat, and increase water and nutrient retention on-field. Researchers have found that by converting approximately 10% of the landscape to prairie strips as part of the Science-based Trials of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairie Strips (STRIPS) can reduce soil erosion by 90%, decrease nitrate runoff, and improve nesting habitat for prairie obligate species. Whiterock Conservancy will implement STRIPS just north of the agricultural viewing platform on 125th St in June of 2015 as part of the long-term monitoring stations with ISU. Stay tuned for updates on changes in grassland habitat, pollinator diversity, and improvements in water quality as ISU researchers monitor the STRIPS in coming years!
You can find more information about STRIPS at: http://www.nrem.iastate.edu/research/STRIPs/
The implementation of STRIPS at Whiterock Conservancy are possible in part by financial assistance from the USDA FSA Conservation Practice 42 (CRP) and Trees Forever – Working Watersheds: Buffers & Beyond