Prairie Strips are like few other in-field conservation practices for their multiple functions: slowing runoff, reducing erosion, stopping nitrogen and phosphorus in the field, and building soil tilth with deep-rooted perennial plants.

Prairie Strips

The Prairie Strips program was introduced at Iowa State University by plant and soil scientists, after tests on different soils, slopes, and tillage conditions. Prairie Strips are bands of native, perennial prairie plants that are planted in bean and corn fields in order to

  • slow erosion (up to 90% of soil loss from a given field) with permanent ground cover.
  • reduce surface runoff and increase water penetration with deep-rooted perennial plants, through dense stands of stems and biological water uptake.
  • slow the loss of valuable nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) from the field (as much as 80-90%) by slowing erosion and runoff.
  • improve water quality downstream.
  • depending on the layout, seed mix, and nearby habitat areas of the Prairie Strips, create habitat for game animals, pollinators, and songbirds.

Leeward is pleased to offer the services of a Certified Prairie Strips Consultant, Leland Searles, to help plan, design, and implement a Strips installation in a qualifying field. We spend time with a potential Prairie Strips client discussing the needs, opportunities, and limiting conditions for a project. In the process, we gather information that is necessary for a well-designed and well-implemented project.

Designs take into account contour and topography, existing conservation practices, machinery widths, lanes and headrows needed for access, and other variables. In addition, we help determine the financial and non-financial benefits and costs of a project in order to fit a project with a client's capacity. That may include applications for the NRCS Conservation Reserve Program or other funds to offset costs.

The Strips Team at Iowa State University has several informational brochures that are available through Leeward at no charge, along with published research articles and Leeward's own Prairie Strips brochure.

Contact us today at 515-979-6457 to make an appointment, or use the Contact Leeward page to send an email. The future productivity of our land and the quality of our lakes and streams may depend on your effort.



Prairie Strips at Neal Smith NWR
A test STRIPS installation at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge. Image: GoogleEarth