Strips of perennial prairie grass amid row crops may be one of the most cost-effective and low-effort conservation practices. The conservation practice, the Science-based Trials of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairies (STRIPs), developed by Iowa’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, can effectively manage more than 90% of sedimentation and nutrient transport. STRIPs research recommends that prairie conservation strips be planted along the contour of a slope or waterway or low crop productivity zones to maximize their effectiveness. According to a new economic study, the average cost to treat runoff from an acre of corn or soybeans this way is just $24 to $35 per year (see http://bit.ly/16Fa3RK ).
The study outlines the total yearly cost of the practice spread out over a 15-year land management regime. This includes the cost of land conversion and maintenance, and the opportunity cost of lost revenue or rent from acreage taken out of crop production.
The research was led by John Tyndall, a member of the STRIPs research team.
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