What's The Buzz? Exploring The Impact Of Prairie Strips And Pollinators

September 10, 2021

Iowa Learning Farms, in partnership with the Iowa Nutrient Research Center, and Conservation Learning Group (CLG), is hosting a free virtual field day discussing the impact of prairie STRIPS (Science-Based Trails of Rowcrops Integrated Prairie Strips) on September 23 at 1 p.m. CDT. Join us for a live discussion with Randall Cass, Iowa State University (ISU) bee extension specialist, Amy Toth, ISU professor of entomology, and Kate Borchardt, ISU department of ecology, evolution and organismal biology graduate student.

Prairie strips are strategically placed native prairie plantings in crop fields to improve soil health and water quality, as well as providing critical habitat for wildlife and pollinators. The practice began as experimental plots at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in 2007 and increasingly on commercial farms across Iowa.

Prairie strips provide both abundant and diverse flowering plants to agricultural landscapes, which are essential for supporting honey bees and conserving wild bees and butterflies. Flowers provide critical food resources for these insects: nectar for adult bees and butterflies, and pollen for the young bees. Furthermore, a growing body of scientific literature indicates that bee health is improved when they are provided a diverse diet of plants.

"With this work, we are exploring whether prairie habitat integrated into Iowa crop fields as prairie strips can sustain the health and populations of wild and managed bees,” stated Toth. “We know the strips provide benefits in terms of forage quantity and quality to wild and managed bees separately-- but can they coexist? Thus, we are studying whether commercial honey beekeeping and wild bee conservation can be accomplished simultaneously in these landscapes, assessing the market value of prairie strips "conservation-focused" honey production.”

To participate in the live virtual field day at 1:00 pm CST on September 23 to learn more, click this URL: https://iastate.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJUpduihpj8iE9ZHcjpsenc2DWQILG41wg0D or visit www.iowalearningfarms.org/page/events and click “Join Live Virtual Field Day”.

Or, join from a dial-in phone line:

    Dial: 1.312.626.6799              Meeting ID: 914 1198 4892

The field day will be recorded and archived on the ILF website so that it can be watched at any time. The archive will be available at https://www.iowalearningfarms.org/page/events.

Participants may be eligible for a Certified Crop Adviser board-approved continuing education unit (CEU). Information about how to apply to receive the credit (if approved) will be provided at the end of the live field day.

Established in 2004, Iowa Learning Farms is building a Culture of Conservation by encouraging adoption of conservation practices. Farmers, researchers and ILF team members are working together to identify and implement the best management practices that improve water quality and soil health while remaining profitable. Partners of Iowa Learning Farms include the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Iowa Department of Natural Resources (USEPA section 319) and GROWMARK, Inc.