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From Science to Practice: Findings from the 2011 STRIPs Project Stakeholder Meeting (June 21, 2011)

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Increasing demands on agriculture to supply a complex combination of food, feed, fiber, and fuel will likely serve as a catalyst for substantial changes in ecological, economic, and social systems in the Midwestern U.S., including alterations of traditional agricultural land-use patterns. One such change in land-use that may help meet both agricultural commodity demands and the rising need to ensure the provision of ecosystem services from agricultural lands includes the strategic incorporation of perennial vegetation within row crop-dominated landscapes (Boody et al. 2005; Schulte et al. 2006). In July 2007 an interdisciplinary group of researchers established a series of annual-perennial vegetation treatments on 14 watersheds at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge; this project has become one of Iowa’s key long-term agro-ecological research projects (see The central hypothesis of the research is that strategic placement of a small amount of native prairie vegetation within row crop-dominated landscapes will have disproportionate (greater and positive) effect on the functioning of biophysical (e.g., water quality and flow, biodiversity) and socioeconomic (i.e., quality of life, economic and social stability) systems. Comparative treatments ranged from conventional agriculture (100% annual vegetation), to reconstructed prairie (100% perennial vegetation), to mixed systems with strategically placed prairie vegetation covering 10 or 20% of the watershed.


This report was prepared by Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Iowa State University (2011): 14pp. Posted with permission.

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