Sunday, 12 November 2017

Prairie Strips Protect Soil

Prairie strip embedded in an agricultural (corn) watershed. Prairie strips increase nutrient and sediment retention, reduce runoff, and increase biodiversity. Iowa State University

Farming is tough and farmers want to make sure they make good decisions. Most farmers have a deep conservation ethic and commitment to their land. Now doing well by doing good may be just what the soil doctor ordered.

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences describes the results of a ten year study. The practice of prairie strips began as research plots at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Prairie City, Iowa, and has expanded to 47 commercial farm sites in Iowa, Missouri, Illinois and other states.

Iowa Public Radio interviewed Lisa Schulte Moore, the primary researcher and a professor at Iowa State University. She cited the following benefits:

  • reducing soil loss by 95 percent
  • reducing phosphorus runoff by 77 percent
  • reducing overall nitrogen loss by 70 percent
  • attracting pollinators
  • increasing the number and diversity of birds.

By swapping out deep rooted native plants for cool-season monoculture grasses currently in use on field edges and across gently sloping fields, many farmers can significantly improve soil retention while reducing runoff.

According to a study by Helmers and Zhou incorporating prairie strips at the footslope position of annual rowcrop systems provides an effective way to reduce sediment loss in agricultural runoff from under a no-till system.

While not specifically sited in the study, water that stays on the land also improves groundwater recharge at the same time it is capturing phosphorus and nitrogen.

February 2017

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Help Attract More Bees

Southwest Badger Resource Conservation & Development Council is presenting a series of talks help landowners in Southwestern Wisconsin attract more bees, butterflies, humming birds and other pollinators to their property.

Pollinators and upland wildlife are vital to our economy, food sources and recreational opportunities and their decline is a serious problem. The lack of native prairie plants is contributing to a loss of both pollinators and upland bird species. The good news is it doesn’t matter if you own hundreds of acres or a small yard, you can help encourage pollinators like bees, butterflies and humming birds. This session will teach you about pollinator biology, the link between wildlife and healthy populations of pollinators, prairie establishment and choosing the best seed mix to fit your needs. Don’t miss out on this one of a kind opportunity to improve your land for future generations!

There will be four opportunities landowners to receive expert guidance on pollinator biology and establishing the plants necessary to their survival. The schedule of events is as follows: Friday February 24th from 6-8pm in La Crosse, Tuesday March 7th from 6:30-8:30pm in Baraboo, Wednesday March 8th from 6:00-8:00pm in Richland Center, and Thursday March 9th from 6:00-8:00pm in Prairie du Chien. A registration fee of $12 includes a pollinator information packet and prairie seed pack. To receive more information or reserve your spot contact Brandon Bleuer at Brandon.bleuer@swbadger.org or (309) 738-2607.

Crawford County Workshop Promotional Flyer 3-9-17
Richland County Pollinator Workshop Promotional Flyer 3-8-17
Sauk County Pollinator Workshop Promotional Flyer 3-7-17