Water Quality Evaluation of Prairie Strips Across Iowa

September 25, 2017

Water quality evaluation of Prairie Strops across Iowa
Funded by the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy

Issue: The STRIPS project (Science-based Trials of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairie Strips) conducted at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge near Prairie City showed integrating tallgrass prairie vegetation into row-cropped watersheds can provide water quality benefits and increase biodiversity across several taxa. Because these studies were conducted on small watersheds at one location, there is a need to evaluate the water quality benefits of prairie strips when implemented on a full-farm scale across various locations in Iowa.

Objective: The objectives of this project are to assess the effects of prairie strips on the quantity and quality of surface water runoff from cropped watersheds, assess the effects of prairie strips on dissolved nutrient concentrations in shallow groundwater, and disseminate project information through field days, Iowa State University Extension Outreach fact sheets, and presentations throughout the state. Approach: In the past 36 months, prairie strips have been installed on more than 34 sites in Iowa. Some of these sites allow for detailed surface runoff water quality and quantity evaluation using a paired approach in which catchments with prairie strips are compared with catchments without prairie strips. This project will be conducted at seven of these study sites throughout Iowa.

Investigators: Matthew Helmers, Professor, Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Iowa State University Lisa Schulte Moore, Professor, Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Iowa State University Matt Liebman, Professor, Agronomy, Iowa State University

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