Applied Uses of Prairies
Nearly all of the native tallgrass prairies have been destroyed, and most of the current prairies were created through prairie restorations. Yet it is unlikely that prairie restorations conducted solely for conservation purposes will result in the reestablishment of significant portions tallgrass prairies. Using restored prairies for profit gaining purposes, however, may encourage prairie restorations. Prairies can potentially be used for multiple applied purposes, some of which are currently economically valued and some of which are likely to be economically valued in the near future. The biomass of prairies can be used directly as a cellulosic biofuel feedstock or as forage for grazing livestock.
Prairies can provide a range of ecosystem services such as biomass for bioenergy, carbon sequestration, reductions in nutrient pollution, and enhancement of beneficial insects, all of which are likely to have economic value in the future. The management and diversity of prairies grown for applied uses differ, and knowledge of the desired use of the prairie is important in determining the appropriate prairie characteristics.