Declining insect biodiversity in Iowa is connected to regional lack of supporting habitat. An innovative best management practice (BMP) that is being explored to simultaneously improve insect habitat and minimize nutrient and sediment loss at field scales are prairie strips. Research on prairie strips has shown that integrating small amounts of prairie into agriculture fields in Iowa benefits soil, water, and wildlife habitat quality. Despite the promising findings in terms of field level water quality benefits and biodiversity, adoption of prairie strips and other vegetative BMPs is relatively low, a primary reason is cost. The emergence of a potential new market for biomass in biogas production may help incentivize this important perennial practice. Animal manure acts as an effective fertilizer in many crop and grassland systems and can increase biomass yields. Animal manure also contains microbes that increase the efficiency of the anaerobic digestion process; anaerobic digestion of organic materials creates a source of renewable energy by producing biogas. Single raw material fermentation of animal manure can create nutritional imbalances and acidification, negatively impacting the stability of biogas-generating systems. Co-digestion of animal manure with other organic compounds, such as prairie biomass, could help avoid these disadvantages while improving the efficiency of biomass resources. The potential relationship between biogas production, livestock production, and prairie ecosystems could provide an opportunity for incremental manure disposal, while also saving bio-resources and providing environmental protection. One possible challenge of using manure as a fertilizer in prairie systems is that there may be negative outcomes associated with important ecosystem functions, namely beneficial insect diversity. The objectives with this study was to evaluate the impacts of different rates of manure application in prairie ecosystems on plant growth and insect community abundance and activity density.
How to Cite:
Bogert, M., Schulte-Moore, L. A., Tyndall, J. C. & O'Neal, M. E., (2022) “Insect Diversity in Manure-Treated Prairie”, Iowa State University Research and Demonstration Farms Progress Reports 2021(1), 31–32.