Burning questions about prairie strips answered on In the Weeds podcast
Learn about why and how you would install a prairie strip on your land by listening to the “In the Weeds” podcast.
When farmers and consultants are looking for ways to make practices more sustainable economically, grid and zone soil testing has become a very useful tool. By applying the right amount of fertilizer where it is needed most, rather than across the entire field, precision agriculture can lead to improvements not only in environmental impacts, but also the bottom line. Other precision tools like yield monitoring can be helpful in dialing in your cost of production.
Cost of production is the biggest reason to move to a higher level of field management. It is the way to sort out where adding more inputs to a field will pay out and where those inputs will fall flat. While we often think of the benefits of changing where we place fertilizers, the cost of production can also be affected by the population of plants in the field. The MiSTRIPS program asks, “What if I plant my least productive land to prairie—can I add more value with diversity?” When you install prairie strips in the least productive land like field edges or sandy hilltops you can reduce your cost of production. The diversity comes with the seeding mix of natives and the beneficial insects they attract.
A research team at W.K. Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) has been looking at the ecosystem services that can be provided by prairie strips. The research showed that a prairie strip’s flora and fauna brought an array of beneficial “ecosystem services” to the strips and the surrounding farmland. For example, the prairie strips attracted more pollinators and increased pollinator activity near the strips. Not only that, the field’s beneficial insects were boosted with increases in spider and dung beetle populations. Prairie strips can also provide other ecosystem services like erosion prevention and water filtering.
Recently, “In the Weeds” interviewed Fahimeh Baziari and Nate Han about prairie strips. Baziari works with farmers to put prairie strips on farms in Michigan. We discussed resources to install and maintain prairie strips in your fields. All told, there are many reasons to help farmers bring prairie strips to their land, which the researchers are working to do now through the MiSTRIPS program, a regional partnership that delivers programming and networking opportunities to increase the scale and adoption of prairie strips conservation practices.
To hear more about prairie strips, listen to the Michigan Field Crops podcast channel “In the Weeds.” You will hear from farmers, agribusiness and Michigan State University Extension educators. The podcast is available on Spotify, iTunes and embedded on the Field Crops Team website. New podcasts will be posted every week for this series. To receive notification on podcast posts, please subscribe to our channel: Michigan Field Crops.