Campus Units

Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Statistics, Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Agronomy, Sociology, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture

Document Type

Article

Publication Version

Published Version

Publication Date

10-2017

Journal or Book Title

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Volume

114

Issue

42

First Page

11247

Last Page

11252

DOI

10.1073/pnas.1620229114

Abstract

Loss of biodiversity and degradation of ecosystem services from agricultural lands remain important challenges in the United States despite decades of spending on natural resource management. To date, conservation investment has emphasized engineering practices or vegetative strategies centered on monocultural plantings of nonnative plants, largely excluding native species from cropland. In a catchment-scale experiment, we quantified the multiple effects of integrating strips of native prairie species amid corn and soybean crops, with prairie strips arranged to arrest run-off on slopes. Replacing 10% of cropland with prairie strips increased biodiversity and ecosystem services with minimal impacts on crop production. Compared with catchments containing only crops, integrating prairie strips into cropland led to greater catchment-level insect taxa richness (2.6-fold), pollinator abundance (3.5-fold), native bird species richness (2.1-fold), and abundance of bird species of greatest conservation need (2.1-fold). Use of prairie strips also reduced total water runoff from catchments by 37%, resulting in retention of 20 times more soil and 4.3 times more phosphorus. Corn and soybean yields for catchments with prairie strips decreased only by the amount of the area taken out of crop production. Social survey results indicated demand among both farming and nonfarming populations for the environmental outcomes produced by prairie strips. If federal and state policies were aligned to promote prairie strips, the practice would be applicable to 3.9 million ha of cropland in Iowa alone.

Comments

This article is published as Schulte, Lisa A., Jarad Niemi, Matthew J. Helmers, Matt Liebman, J. Gordon Arbuckle, David E. James, Randall K. Kolka et al. "Prairie strips improve biodiversity and the delivery of multiple ecosystem services from corn–soybean croplands." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2017): 201620229. 10.1073/pnas.1620229114. Posted with permission.

Rights

Works produced by employees of the U.S. Government as part of their official duties are not copyrighted within the U.S. The content of this document is not copyrighted.

Language

en

File Format

application/pdf