Tallgrass Prairies Provide Habitat
Tallgrass prairies are attractive to a diversity of wildlife as habitat including grassland songbirds, and key pollinating insects such as bees, butterflies, and ants. These grasslands provide nesting, brood rearing, escape and roosting cover for songbirds and game birds such as bobwhite quail, wild turkey, and pheasant.
Because tallgrass prairies are composed of native species, they have adapted to local growing conditions, i.e. soil, water, sun light and climate. Drought, varying hot and cold temperatures, short growing seasons, early and late frost have little effect on native species because they have evolved with them (Restoring Canada’s Native Prairies, 1995).
Can be planted on Degraded Land/Soil
Tallgrass prairies can be planted on degraded land and in poor quality agricultural soils as they are tolerant and adapted to a wide variety of soil types. The ability of the prairie plants to grow in poor soil allows for farmers to keep prime agricultural land for food production.
Build Soil Quality
Native prairie plants with their deep root systems and perennial nature are ideal for soil conservation. These root systems help to hold together light soil, store nutrients, buffer against climate variations and the cover provided by the plants practically eliminates surface sheet and wind erosion. The root systems of prairie plants are extensive and can grow several metres deep. Once the tallgrass prairie is established, it helps to build soil quality; as these roots break down, they add large quantities of organic matter to the soil.
Tallgrass prairies are aesthetically pleasing to look at and the native prairie grasses and wildflowers provide an array of colour varying from early spring and right through into the winter.
Other Environmental Benefits
Tallgrass prairies also help to protect our water resources. They improve water infiltration and slow runoff, purifying the water and air by reducing nutrient, pesticide and bacteria loading into our waterways. Tallgrass prairies make an excellent buffer strips along stream banks with their ability to anchor the soil with their deep root systems.
Tallgrass prairies help to improve the environment around farms. Fields of tallgrass prairie eliminate or manage weeds; the deep root systems of tallgrass prairie plants prevents shallow rooted non-prairie plants from becoming established and are the perfect companions for adjacent crops in more intensive agricultural operations such as vegetable production.