Planting Native Prairie Could Be a Secret Weapon for Farmers

bee on flowerFrom Civil Eat, October 15, 2019.

In Iowa, researchers and farmers are discovering that planting strips of native prairie amidst farmland benefits soil, water, biodiversity, and more.

When farmer Gary Guthrie describes recent changes to his farm, his eyes light up. After adding native prairie to his central Iowa operation, he remembers hearing the hum of pollinators flocking to the property.

“Oh, my goodness, it was stunning, the level of buzzing,” Guthrie said. “That moment was sort of an awakening for me.” The presence of so many bees and other insects was an indicator, to Guthrie, of the health of the land.

In 2015, Guthrie seeded four 30-foot-wide prairie strips on his 145-acre corn, soy, and vegetable farm. These prairie plantings are a new land management tool that involves integrating native plant species into farm fields as contour buffers and edge-of-field filters.

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