How planting prairie strips on Iowa farms could save soil, water, wildlife and money — in-state and beyond

How planting prairie strips on Iowa farms could save soil, water, wildlife and money — in-state and beyond

A solution to some of the biggest problems facing farmers, and some of the biggest environmental challenges in the state, has deep roots in Iowa’s past.

Roughly 85 percent of Iowa’s 36 million acres were covered with prairie plants when the U.S. frontier pushed into what would become the state of Iowa in the 19th century. Now, less than one-10th of one percent of that 30 million acres of prairie exists.

Instead, 30 million of the state’s acres are now devoted to agricultural production, with just two crops — corn and soybeans — covering more than 80 percent of those acres. Being so heavily invested in these crops has massive consequences for the land and water.

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