Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture

STRIPS Research Team

prairie strips and fieldcrop field with prairie stripsGo to this research team's website

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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 name is STRIPS (Science-based Trials of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairie STRIPS). Formerly known as "the Perennializers," the team is showing that small areas of 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, and is currently being designed for demonstration on private farmland.

NEW!  This publication, Small Changes, Big Impacts, describes the overall project in the context of the Iowa landscape and agricultural production..

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.


The goals of the STRIPS 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 improvements)

Research team resources

Related grant projects

Links we like

Harvest Public Media asked Seth Watkins why he was adding 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].

More photos, research papers and profiles of all team members can be found on the STRIPS Research Team website.

Send an email to the research team; prairiestrips@iastate.edu