Tallgrass Prairie Publications and Reports

Document Type



Endemic plants--Seeds--Middle West--Congresses; Seed supply--Middle West--Congresses;

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The purpose of this meeting was to convene stakeholders – to bring together knowledgeable people invested in the native seed industry to work out solutions to pressing problems. This fits the mission of the TPC through our interest in supporting high quality restoration projects that “save all the cogs and wheels” by capturing and propagating the species and genetic diversity of remnant prairies.

Today in Iowa, the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is the biggest program using native plant materials, followed by the Department of Transportation. Early in its history, CRP plantings were not seen as an opportunity for ecological restoration. Few species of native seeds were available, and CRP fields were mostly monocultures of switchgrass cultivars or brome or other non-native plants that provided erosion control but few other ecosystem services.

There has been a gradual improvement in the diversity of native species used in CRP, beginning with an increased number of grass species and incorporating more forbs over time. This would not have been possible without scaling up the supply of native prairie seed. The catalyst for the growth of the native seed industry in the state of Iowa was the adoption of Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management by the State Legislature in 1988. Sixty percent of the public land in Iowa is in the form of roadside rights-ofway. The DOT, TPC, and the Iowa Crop Improvement Agency worked together to establish a yellow tag certification program for source-identified native seed. Seed producers using either Iowa Ecotype Project foundation seed from the TPC or seed hand-collected from remnants ensured that Iowa-ecotype seed would be available for restoring Iowa roadsides. CRP projects have benefitted from the availability of diverse Iowa source-ID seed, even though they do not require the yellow tag, and the demand for CRP seed mixes has, in return, helped to sustain the native seed industry.


Department of Biology


Tallgrass Prairie Center


The 2019 Native Seed Stakeholder Meeting was held on March 13, 2019 at the UNI Center for Energy & Environmental Education and was hosted by the UNI Tallgrass Prairie Center.

The report was prepared by Laura Fischer Walter, April 11, 2019.

Original Publication Date



UNI ScholarWorks, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa


©2020 Laura Fischer Walter



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