Prairie Strips Winter Webinar Series
By: Craig Ficenec, Sand County Foundation
Much of Illinois was once covered in a diverse prairie ecosystem: wildlife thrived and water flowed clean. Today, recreating a small fraction of that native vegetation could move us toward our water quality and habitat goals, while improving farm profitability.
Sand County Foundation, Pheasants Forever, and Iowa State University are excited to host a webinar series throughout February to show how and why strategically planted strips of prairie can benefit Illinois’ streams, pollinators, and farmers.
Prairie strips are taking root as a new agricultural conservation practice across the Midwest. These strips of native perennial vegetation, generally 30 feet or more in width, are placed along the contour within a farm field or at the field edge to retain rainfall and capture soil and nutrient runoff. Research results from the STRIPS team at Iowa State University show that prairie strips on just a few acres of a row crop field can provide significant water quality and biodiversity benefits.
For farmers and crop advisors reviewing yield data, permanent cover may be an economical option for underperforming crop acres along field borders or other trouble spots. Seeding native perennial grasses and forbs can provide stable cover, attract pollinators and grassland birds, and prevent soil and nutrients from leaving the field.
Illinois is already leading the way in expanding prairie strip acreage. Last year, Illinois enrolled more acres than any other state in a new “Prairie Strips CP-43 Practice” under the Conservation Reserve Program. Rather than retiring fields from production, this Conservation Reserve Program option keeps most of the field in row crops while putting borders, odd-shaped corners or contours into native grass and wildflower vegetation. Additionally, this provides the landowner with annual rental payments.
Join us from 8 AM to 9 AM CT, each Tuesday on February 8, 15, and 22. The webinar series is designed for agronomists, consultants, and farmers.
We will discuss:
Session 1: How to lay out prairie strips to maintain efficient field operations and maximize per-acre return on investment
Session 2: Strategies for site preparation, seeding, and management of prairie strips
Session 3: Potential benefits of prairie strips for pollinators and crop production
Visit www.sandcountyfoundation.org/prairiestrips to register and view a complete program.
Each session qualifies for 1.0 CEU credits.