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 six 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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With funding from the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) program, we are collaborating with farmers to demonstrate prairie strips applied in accordance with farmers’ needs. The University of Wisconsin’s Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems and the Valley Stewardship Network are our primary partners in this work.

We began seeding strips with three collaborating farms in 2017. We added three more farms in 2018, with more to come in 2019. We will model the performance of prairie strips utilizing Wisconsin's Phosphorus Index, and evaluate economic performance and farmer satisfaction.

For more on our prairie strip work, read:

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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