Explore the Impact of Pollinators and Prairie Strips

Iowa Learning Farms Virtual Field Day Scheduled for Sept. 23

September 13, 2021, 10:57 am | Elizabeth Ripley, Randall Cass

AMES, Iowa – 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 Sept. 23 at 1 p.m. CDT.

Join for a live discussion with Randall Cass, extension entomologist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Amy Toth, Iowa State professor of entomology, and Kate Borchardt, graduate student with the Iowa State Department of Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology.

Randcall Cass with bees.Prairie strips are strategically placed native prairie plantings in crop fields to improve soil health and water quality, as well as to provide 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,” said 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.”

The field day will be recorded and archived on the Iowa Learning Farms website so that it can be watched at any time.

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

Shareable photo: Randall Cass with bees.

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