Prairie Filter Strips

Prairies of the past could be a modern conservation tool for farmers.

Native prairie plants can act as a sponge and slow soil runoff from rain. Research from Iowa State University shows planting dense, diverse and deep-rooted strips of prairie next to corn and soybean fields has environmental benefits.

Sand County Foundation is working with farmers to demonstrate how prairie filter strips work on Wisconsin farms of varying soil types, typographies and management styles.

In partnership with farmers, researchers, and service providers, we are applying examples of Iowa State University’s STRIPS project to southern Wisconsin.

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SCF's prairie strip efforts began in 2017 with the implementation of six demonstration sites funded through the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) program. Together with the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, Iowa State University, and American Farmland Trust, we are advancing this work into other Midwestern states.

Our goal is to validate the capability of the practice to reduce erosion and improve water quality, while identifying benefits and potential barriers to farmer adoption. Prairie strips are now an approved practice in the federal Conservation Reserve Program.

For more on our prairie strip work, view our Conservation Brief on the topic, and read these online articles:

Using prairie strips to protect Wisconsin water

Why Prairie Strips? Dan Stoffel shares his thoughts and experiences

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BEFORE & AFTER: We assisted a prairie strip planting with Ross Bishop of Washington County, Wisconsin in 2018 (above). One year later, the prairie strip (following a maintenance mowing) is flourishing (below).

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