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Prairie Strips, Prescribed Burning Benefits Outlined In Virtual Field Day

IARN — An educational field day outlining the benefits of prairie strip management and prescribed burning was held via Zoom on Thursday by the Practical Farmers of Iowa.

Prairie Strips are a practice that more farmers and landowners are using to reintegrate prairie into Iowa’s agricultural landscape, providing numerous water quality and wildlife benefits in the process. Sprit Lake farmer Eric Hoien described the use of prairie strips on his 129-acre farm during the virtual event. His operation currently features 23 acres of prairie strips.

“There are two different water testing flows on our site that are monitored by Iowa Lakeside Lab here at West Okoboji,” Hoien said. “The first one is after the water runs off through the strips. That gives them a way to see what the water quality is like after it’s gone through the strips. Then we have a leading edge one up to the top of the strips that comes directly off the field. That way they have a chance to monitor the water that comes directly off the field runoff, and then the water that comes through the strips, and do a comparison.”

Hoien also uses prescribed burning in the management of his land. Tim Younquist is the farmer liaison with the Iowa State University STRIPS team. During the online event, Younquist said prescribed fire is a valuable management tool that achieves many conservation goals.

“The American tall grass prairie was meant to be burned,” Younquist said. “It contains species that have adapted over time to tolerate fire very well. Many of the prairie species have roots that go very deep, so as that fire burns off the top, they will have enough root reserve to come back the following year. Fire was used by Native Americans pretty extensively. Burning can help take that thatch layer off the top. You’ll see a stronger regrowth the following year and it really cleans it up. You can increase seed production also with fire.”

Thursday’s online field day was part one of a two-part series. The next prairie strip and prescribed burning field day will be held July 31st. Find more information on that event by visiting practicalfarmers.org.

Story courtesy of the Iowa Agribusiness Radio Network.

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