Grant Recipient Touts Benefits of Tallgrass Pra...

Grant Recipient Touts Benefits of Tallgrass Prairies

Grant Recipient Touts Benefits of Tallgrass Prairies


NCR-SARE Graduate Student grant recipient Meghann Jarchow and other Iowa State University (ISU) researchers say tallgrass prairies offer many other benefits to landowners in addition to fertile soil.

In 2009, the team submitted a proposal to the NCR-SARE Graduate Student Grant program and were awareded $9,965 to study how to incorporate native prairies into working farm landscapes. “Before European settlement, more than 85% of IA was tallgrass prairie,” said Jarchow. “By 2007, 64% of IA was cropped in either corn or soybean, and less than 0.1% of the land was tallgrass prairie. Increasing the amount of prairie in IA will improve environmental quality and the natural resource base on which IA agriculture depends and may also improve farmer profitability if the prairies provide a market-valued product.”

Many of the benefits of tallgrass prairies are outlined in a new publication, Incorporating Prairies into Multifunctional Landscapes, written by Jarchow, a Ph.D. candidate in the ISU Department of Agronomy, and her advisor, Matt Liebman, ISU’s Henry A. Wallace Endowed Chair of Sustainable Agriculture. Jarchow provided many of the full-color photographs in the publication.

The research team is developing multiyear cropping systems for IA that integrate annuals and perennials. Their work will include establishment of prairies on IA farms, increased knowledge of prairies grown as biomass feedstocks, scientific and extension publications and presentations, and field days. They hope that increased farmer familiarity with the establishment, utility, and environmental benefits of native tallgrass prairies will encourage planting of prairies in agriculturally-dominated landscapes.

The publication looks at ways that prairies can be incorporated into farms, how they affect nearby crops, and resources to establish prairies.

The publication was sponsored by NCR-SARE, the Leopold Center, and ISU Agriculture and Natural Resource Extension. The publication can be downloaded, or printed copies requested at no charge from the ISU University Extension Online Store at:

Want more information? See the related SARE grant(s) GNC09-107, Incorporating Native Prairies into Working Farm Landscapes .

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This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.