Tallgrass Prairie Center


Economic Uses of Prairie

Prairie vegetation is valuable for wildlife, soil conservation, and for aesthetic beauty.  But finding economic uses for prairie vegetation could help us to increase the amount of prairie on the midwestern landscape. The Tallgrass Prairie Center has been working on ways to create and use diverse, native prairie vegetation since 2007.

Biomass Energy:

Our first major project was focused on biomass energy production. Over the course of the study from 2007 to 2015, the Prairie Power Project involved at least fifty UNI students and four UNI biology faculty.  Click here for the final report.

The next step was to investigate a system of biomass harvest, densification, transport and burning for a rural school or business currently dependent on liquid propane for their heating needs.  Click here for the 2017 report, Linking Nutrient Reduction Practices with Biomass Energy: Quantifying Thermal Energy Demand and Supply Capacity for Representative Farms in Eastern Iowa.  This study was funded by the Iowa Nutrient Research Center.  

Grazing and Haying Prairie:

The Tallgrass Prairie Center has not had the opportunity to study grazing, but we provide links to some credible resources in Nebraska and Oklahoma on the subject.  We will share more information as it becomes available in this space.

Carbon and Habitat Markets:

There are some hopeful signs that landowners in the Tallgrass Prairie region may some day be able to sell credits for habitat creation and carbon storage on their land, in a market system. These markets are very new; we will post information here as it becomes available.