Tvisha Martin soil sampling 5 meters away from the praire strip (left) to see gradient effect of prairie strips on soil health and nematode communities
Prairie strips are a new sustainable agriculture practice used to incorporate plant diversity in row-crop agriculture. Prairie strips have been shown to enhance pollinator diversity, reduce nitrate leaching, and improve nutrient cycling. Yet, little is known regarding how prairie strips might impact belowground trophic level diversity. In this experiment we aim to assess how prairie strip incorporation within the KBS LTER impacts nematode community structure and function and whether or not prairie strips will lead to positive benefits on the nematode community in adjacent agricultural fields. We will also assess if nematodes can serve as early predictors of soil biological health within systems that have prairie strips.