Goals and Objectives
Mission: To improve Midwestern farms AND the environment by increasing the use of diverse, native prairie plantings to create agricultural and environmental benefits including the production of biofuels.
Goal: Examine and demonstrate the benefits gained by planting diverse mixes of prairie plants in the agricultural landscape
Objectives: Our objectives over the coming decades are to find the best mix or mixes of prairie plants to:
- create biomass for production of biofuels.
- maximize use by animals, especially those with declining populations.
- sequester carbon in the soil.
- decrease soil erosion.
- support pollinators and other beneficial insects in an agricultural landscape.
- reduce runoff/atmospheric release of phosphorus and nitrogen.
- provide forage for livestock.
- maximize nutrient and water content in the soil, especially during dry condition
Additionally, we will test several traditionally used techniques for prairie planting; given that our first two years of plant establishment have occurred under drought conditions, we will examine the importance of these techniques in drought conditions.
From an educational perspective, we will provide a variety of educational opportunities for schoolchildren, business people, government officials, and agricultural producers.
It is important to point out that our plantings are not intended to replace corn or soybeans. Instead, we are targeting the many un-farmable places on a typical farm, including soil terraces, field margins, road boundaries, filter strips along streams, etc. These sites often are planted with non-native grasses such as smooth brome or artificial cultivars of reed canary grass.