A successful prairie planting requires good seed, proper installation and timely management. Knowledgeable, experienced seed vendors and service providers help ensure the best outcome.
To help you find qualified seed and service providers in Iowa, the Tallgrass Prairie Center has compiled a list of native seed vendors and contractors doing business across the state. This list is provided as a public service and constitutes no endorsement by the TPC.
Two versions of the list are provided: an Excel file, which can be sorted to simplify searching, and a PDF for printing.
This list is updated annually, with occasional mid-year updates as needed. Seed and service providers not currently listed should contact the Tallgrass Prairie Center at (319) 273-3836 for consideration.
Note: We encourage you to share this information, but please don't upload these files your web site. Simply link to this URL (tallgrassprairiecenter.org/seed-service-providers) so visitors to your site can see the most up-to-date version of the Seed and Service Provider list.
Prairie Services Custom Rate Survey
How much does it cost to establish and maintain prairie? The answer to that question depends on a multitude of factors, such as the size of the planting, ecological objectives, and your experience with restoration. Compared to planting corn and soybeans, prairie requires different equipment and a different mindset. For instance, a bag of prairie seed will contain a wide variety of species. And compared to seed corn or seed beans, prairie seed is exceptionally small, and every species has its own unique requirements for success (Figure 1). Unfortunately this means your trusty grain drill simply will not be able to place this seed where it can grow.
One avenue of successfully planting and managing prairie is to hire an experienced contractor to conduct all or a portion of the work for you. The Tallgrass Prairie Center provides a Seed and Service Provider list on our website that is updated yearly. To help get a better estimate of what it costs to plant prairie, we conducted a survey of these contractors in summer 2022.
The results of our survey are below (Table 1). Three things to note. First, for some services, prices were higher than custom rates for conventional crops, published by ISU Extension. This is largely due to the higher transportation costs for these specialized service providers. Second, check to see what services are included in an estimate. Many contractors bundle culti-packing with the cost of broadcasting. Third, the size of your prairie matters when it comes to both planting and burning. Smaller jobs have a higher per-acre cost than large ones. Setting up to burn a 10-acre prairie strip will take as much or more time than burning a 40-acre block of prairie.
Table 1. 2022 Prairie Services Custom Rate Survey
|Service||Average Cost Per Acre||Number of Responses|
|Drilling 1-19 acre||$62||18|
|Drilling 20-39 acre||$55||17|
|Drilling 40-80 acre||$50||17|
|Drilling 80+ acre||$43||17|
|Drilling average per acre||52.50|
|Broadcasting 1-19 acre||$49||11|
|Broadcasting 20-39 acre||$45||10|
|Broadcasting 40-80 acre||$38||10|
|Broadcasting 80+ acre||$35||10|
|Broadcasting average per acre||$41.65|
|Cultipacking per acre||$21.00||11|
|Prescribed Fire 1-19 acre||$94||
|Prescribed Fire 20-39 acre||$70||14|
|Prescribed Fire 40-80 acre||$59||14|
|Prescribed fire 80+ acre||$50||13|
|Prescribed fire average per acre||$73.00|
|Tilling per acre||$46.00||10|
|Spraying per acre (no chemical)||$44.00||13|
|Establishment Mowing per acre||$37.00||18|
|Shallow Disking per acre||$33.00||9|
Figure 1: Prairie seed is much smaller and more diverse than the seed of annual row crops.