ISU pairs with Eastern Iowa Airport for nutrient reduction experiment

May 22, 2015

Researchers with Iowa State University are working with the Eastern Iowa Airport to try and reduce runoff in Iowa’s fields. In February, the airport announced the STRIPS project, or Science-based Trials of Row crops Integrated with Prairie Strips.

In mid-May, farmers planted a type of grass the University of Iowa will burn as a biofuel to produce power. In round two of the experiment, Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett helped put the native grass into a hopper for a different purpose. Two wide strips of native grasses going into the cornfield on Friday are intended to both slow down the runoff of water and strip out some of the nutrients that cause pollution. Iowa State University has similar experiments on 18 farms across the state.

“We have our initial experiment which was conducted at Neil Smith Wildlife Refuge. And we’ve been monitoring those fields since 2007. We have really good data showing the fact that the prairie strips, the positive impact of the strips on the prairie living. Now we want to understand the extent so we can replicate those effects here and across the state of Iowa,” said Lisa Schulte, a National Resource Ecologist with Iowa State University.

The next step at the airport experiment is to put in sophisticated monitoring equipment to see if it is working. Once the native grasses are grown, they will provide a habitat for wildlife.


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