Iowa State University, in collaboration with 14 other land-grant institutions and a private university, launched a new effort to boost federal investment in agricultural research in Washington, D.C. last week.
, timed with the release of the 2018 House Farm Bill, focuses on demonstrating to the public and policymakers the many ways that USDA-funded universities and researchers are creating a safer, healthier, and more sustainable food system.
"As researchers, we consider it our job to provide real-world solutions," said Lisa Schulte Moore, professor of natural resource ecology and management at Iowa State, who conducts research on
prairie strips as a farmland conservation practice. "But solid science and training the next generation of problem-solvers requires additional investment into our nation's future."
Schulte Moore participated in FedByScience briefings before Congressional staff on April 18. The effort tells stories in which scientific discoveries and innovations have improved the way food is produced and distributed.
highlights the work of Schulte Moore and her
colleagues on the Science-based Trials of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairie Strips (STRIPS) team. The team examined a set of problems confronting corn and soybean farmers - soil and nutrient retention, especially during rainstorms - and engineered a solution: placing strips of native prairie vegetation throughout the crop rows. The team estimated that the
prairie strips solution
could benefit 9.6 million acres of cropland in Iowa, in addition to a large portion of the 170 million acres managed by the United States.
Agriculture and food production industries are facing considerable challenges in terms of extreme weather, pests and disease, and fluctuating markets. Such challenges can only be addressed through additional research, yet the U.S. agricultural research budget has declined in real dollars since 2003
The U.S. has been second to China in total public agricultural research funding since 2008. In 2013, China's spending on public agricultural research and development nearly doubled that of the U.S.
"Just as farmers are concerned about the erosion of soil, scientists are concerned about the erosion of public funding to support agricultural research," Schulte Moore said.
Did you know?
The STRIPS project discovered that prairie strips are an affordable option for farmers and landowners seeking to garner multiple benefits. By converting 10% of a crop field to native prairie vegetation, farmers and landowners can reduce the amount of soil leaving their fields by 95% and the amount of nitrogen lost through surface runoff by up to 70%. Prairie strips also provide habitat for wildlife, including pollinators and other beneficial insects.
Join the movement
Nearly 50 farmers and landowners are experimenting with prairie strips to demonstrate how the practice functions on different landscapes and soil types. Are you interested in implementing prairie strips? Learn more by exploring the resources on the
Practice Establishment and Management
page or contact
Lisa Schulte Moore stands next to a prairie strip on an ISU Research and Demonstration Farm. Prairie strips can now be seen on five ISU farms. Several will host field days later this summer for people to see the practice implemented on the farm and ask questions about its installation and management.