Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture

STRIPS Research Team

prairie strips and fieldGot questions about STRIPS? We have answers!

Go to the research team's website

Watch videos about this project


An interdisciplinary team of researchers from several ISU departments and collaborating institutions are investigating native prairie strips as a tool for improving the function and integrity of row-cropped farms. The project, STRIPS (Science-based Trials of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairie Strips), shows that small areas of perennial prairie, strategically placed on the contours and foot slope of a row-cropped watershed, provide multifunctional benefits for farmland health.

The STRIPS experiment began in 2008 on 14 small watersheds at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge. The project has attracted substantial attention and interest from diverse stakeholders.

STRIPS has moved into its second phase, implementation on public and private land throughout Iowa. See a map of current locations below.

goals of the Research Team:

  • Test the potential for obtaining multiple ecosystem service benefits (e.g., water quality, hydrologic regulation, biodiversity, production of commodity goods, quality of life) from watersheds supporting mixtures of annual commodity and perennial prairie plants
  • Provide new environmental and production knowledge leading to
    • adoption of new landuse practices,
    • policy enabling conservation enhancing practices and outcomes, and
    • improved environment (water quality, soil health and biodiversity).

STRIPS publications

Iowa map showing current STRIPS sites 8-2015

Go to the interactive/live map on Google

ABOUT THE PROJECT: STRIPS scientist Mary Harris outlines how the STRIPS team designed their research, what they found and how landowners and farmers may get involved in testing this innovative and efficient new conservation practice.

Other resources

Related grant projects

Links we like

Harvest Public Media asked Seth Watkins why he was adding prairie strips to his own farm in southern Iowa. Listen to the story [July 2013].

KMA Radio produced this 6-minute interview with Seth Watkins [August 2013].


  • LANDOWNERS: If you want to implement perennial prairie strips into your operation, contact Tim Youngquist, timyoung@iastate.edu, 712-269-0592.
  • Research questions can be referred to Lisa Schulte Moore, ISU Natural Resource Ecology and Management, lschulte@iastate.edu, 515-294-7339; or Matt Helmers, ISU Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, mhelmers@iastate.edu, 515-294-6717.
  • Send an email to the research team: prairiestrips@iastate.edu