Iowa Learning Farms’ May Webinar Covers Perennial Strips Integrated with Row Crops

AMES, IOWA— The Iowa Learning Farms’ (ILF) May 16 webinar will feature Matt Helmers, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach water quality engineer. The 11:30 a.m. webinar is part of a series, hosted by ILF, held on the third Wednesday of each month through Adobe Connect. All that is needed to participate is a computer with Internet access.

Helmers’ topic is Science-based Trials of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairies (STRIPs) at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge. This research project explores the notion that perennial prairie plants strategically placed within row crop fields will improve field biodiversity, water quality, nutrient and carbon cycling. The research is being conducted at the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge near Prairie City. The perennial strips were planted in 2007 and a corn/soybean rotation has been used on all the research tracts. Numerous studies are taking place with the project including: surface runoff, nutrient export, water use of plants, insect and bird populations within the habitat and plant diversity, yields from row crops as well as social data and perceptions of conservation practices functioning within the row crop rotations.

Helmers will focus the webinar on the water quality aspect of this project. Data from 2007-2011 showed that sediment loss was reduced approximately 95 percent from watersheds with 10-20 percent native prairie vegetation.

To connect to the webinars, go to Helmers will be able to answer questions from webinar “attendees” via the Adobe Connect chat box. The ILF website contains links for archived webinars from previous months:

Iowa Learning Farms is a partnership of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service and Iowa Department of Natural Resources (USEPA section 319); in cooperation with Conservation Districts of Iowa, the Iowa Farm Bureau and the Iowa Water Center.