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How planting prairie strips on Iowa farms could save soil, water, wildlife and money — in-state and beyond

A solution to some of the biggest problems facing farmers, and some of the biggest environmental challenges in the state, has deep roots in Iowa’s past. Roughly 85 percent of Iowa’s 36 million acres were covered with prairie plants when the U.S. frontier pushed into what would become the state of Iowa in the 19th century. Now, less than one-10th of one percent of that 30 million acres of prairie exists. […]

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Iowa’s dwindling bee population is part of a larger, frightening trend

Deep in the belly of the Vermeer Science Center at Central College in Pella, Iowa, cardboard boxes are stacked against the wall in a dimly lit laboratory. The boxes contain thousands of bees — carefully preserved and meticulously categorized based on their Latin genus and species — each with a unique tale to tell. Some are as small as a gnat; others are the size of a cockroach. Their colors span the spectrum, too, from rich, reflective blues to the familiar striped yellow and black of the common honey bee. Paulina Mena, an associate professor of biology, is their veritable warden. […]

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