The Work

Our living lab relies on diverse participants from across the prairies contributing unique skills and knowledge to advance our shared goals. By working together, we grow our collective understanding and the resilience of our prairie agricultural systems, creating value that goes far beyond the sum of our parts.

1

Producers

Advancing place-based knowledge

Farmers, ranchers, and Indigenous participants in the living lab are keen on prairie-inspired solutions. While their perennial, grazed agriculture methods show promise in our region, further research about on and off-farm benefits is essential. Core producers are dedicated to sharing their practices and insights.

Avoiding land conversion

Retaining native and naturalized landscapes, including grasslands, riparian, wetland, and shrubby or wooded areas.

Managing grazing impacts

Actively manipulating timing and intensity of grazing and rest in native and tame rangelands.

Promoting perennials

Restoring and rejuvenating perennial grassland communities, used as pasture or hayland.

Polycropping

Planting cropland with diverse species blends to use as forage or fodder for livestock.

2

Researchers

Rigorously characterizing real-world outcomes

A diverse group of scientists employs innovative tools to study living lab outcomes, addressing producer needs for robust and relevant results.

Soils

Investigating relationships between agricultural management practices and soil carbon, soil moisture, soil microbial communities, greenhouse gas emissions, nutrient cycling and more.

Plants

Studying native and introduced plant communities' production, nutrition, composition, structure, and resilience in various management scenarios.

Animals

Assessing effects of management on domestic animals, including livestock performance and greenhouse gas emissions, and wild animals, including insects and birds.

System Interactions

Investigating the interplay of soil, plants, animals, and human practices on water and greenhouse gas flows, wildlife habitat, biodiversity, farm economics, and societal dynamics.

3

Knowledge Network

Sharing and testing key lessons

Additional living lab participants play a vital role in informing, evaluating, and sharing project outcomes. They assist in conveying key insights, promoting beneficial practices, and collecting feedback from a wider group of practitioners. This two-way communication ensures project messages resonate with a broader range of prairie agriculture stakeholders.

Opportunities to connect

Join us at upcoming events to connect, learn, and actively engage in the future of prairie agriculture. Be part of the conversation, exchange ideas, and contribute to diverse efforts to grow prairie benefits. We look forward to having you with us. 

Our outcomes

Step by step, we are co-developing practical and sustainable approaches to agriculture inspired by and tailored to prairie ecosystems. Check in on our progress here.

Living Lab Sites

Explore our prairie-wide connections

Knowledge that is rooted in place

Our network of prairie sites, managed by dedicated producers, are the core of the living lab. These sites serve as real-world testing grounds for agricultural practices. Participants work together to implement similar practices at diverse locations throughout the region, enabling robust conclusions about practice effectiveness.

Our stories

The unique stories of prairie land managers and collaborators enrich and enlighten our work. Their experiences offer inspiration, ideas, and opportunities to shift our focus towards building a promising future agriculture together.