Long-term data reveals how no-till agriculture increases crop yields and environmental gains over the long haul

Despite the environmental benefits of no-till agriculture, farmers often hesitate to change to this management approach due to uncertain economic returns. Pictured above are soybeans emerging through no-till corn residue on the KBS LTER site. Photo Credit: G.P. Robertson, MSU KBS Sarah Cusser, postdoctoral research associate at the Kellogg Biological Station (KBS), and MSU terrestrial ecologist Nick Haddad, director of the Long-term Ecological Research (LTER) program at the Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) and professor in the Department of Integrative Biology,

Seeking a more resilient agriculture: the next chapter for the KBS LTER program

Imagine for a moment a Midwestern agricultural landscape in late August that has not seen rain in weeks. Some corn fields remain green, showing no sign of a moisture deficit while other fields have curled leaves, plants starting to yellow. Belowground, microbial communities between the fields are acting differently, too, some biding their time until a pulse of rain puts them in motion while others continue their work. Under the same climate and soils, why is one field more resilient to the stress of drought? What about that field helps it to remain productive? In the midst of global

Learning about the environment from the soil up: Reflections from an undergraduate researcher

KBS undergraduate summer researcher Kathryn Bloodworth is majoring in biology and environmental science at Eastern University, near Philadelphia. She wrote about her Research Experience for Undergraduates experience working with Will West, a post-doc in Sarah Evan's lab. Kathryn was funded by an ESA SEEDS fellowship and an NSF REU site award to the Kellogg Biological Station. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ My name is Kathryn Bloodworth and I am a rising senior at Eastern University, located outside of Philadelphia. There I study biology and environmental science and for the last eleven weeks I have had

Clouds of confidence: Reflections from an undergraduate researcher

KBS summer undergraduate researcher Carlneshia Johnson is majoring in Biology at Alcorn State University. She wrote about her Research Experience for Undergraduates project working with KBS LTER PhD student Bonnie McGill in Steve Hamilton's lab. Carlneshia was funded by an NSF REU site award to the Kellogg Biological Station. ~~~ My experience at the Kellogg Biological Station in the Research Experience for Undergraduates program was one that is almost indescribable, but I will try my best to describe the wonderful experience I had at such an amazing place. How about you take away

Are streams pipes or processors of organic carbon from their watersheds? Reflections from an LTER fellow

Each year the KBS LTER program awards two graduate students with summer research fellowships. Here Sydney Ruhala describes the research her 2016 summer fellowship supported. Sydney is an M.S. student in Jay Zarnetske’s lab at Michigan State University. She recently was awarded best poster presentation in basic research at the 2016 Society for Freshwater Science meeting in Sacramento, CA – congrats, Sydney! ~~~~~~ As a graduate student in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Michigan State University, I have spent my summers wading through the rivers of southwestern

KBS LTER field tour for investigators on Sept. 25

The 2015 KBS LTER Fall Field Tour for Investigators is scheduled for Friday, September 25, at 4 p.m. at KBS. Guided tours of LTER and GLBRC field experiments will be followed by an evening barbecue. During the event, you'll have opportunity to tour field experiments, hear some research presentations, and meet with colleagues, old and new. To register (required), please rsvp to Dr. Neville Millar, LTER Science Coordinator, millarn@msu.edu.

Understanding farmer participation in conservation auctions to enhance ecosystem services

Each year the KBS LTER program awards one full-year Graduate Student Fellowship. Here Leah Harris Palm-Forster describes her research that was supported by the 2014 LTER Graduate Fellowship. Leah obtained her Ph.D. working with Professor Scott Swinton in MSU's Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics and is now an Assistant Professor at the University of Delaware in the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics. ~~ Going once, going twice, … bought from the lowest bidder! Hold on, what kind of auction is that? Why is the auctioneer buying something and why does the

The surprising connection between neonicotinoids, soybean aphid, and invasive ladybeetles

This post explores a new paper by KBS LTER scientists Drs. Christie Bahlai and Doug Landis, Shifts in dynamic regime of an invasive lady beetle are linked to the invasion and insecticidal management of its prey. The paper is now available as a preprint at Ecological Applications. A version of this post, written by Dr. Bahai, originally appeared on her blog, Practical Data Management for Bug Counters. ~~ Neonicotinoids, a commonly used class of broad-spectrum insecticides, have been the subject of much controversy in recent years, particularly their impacts on bees, birds, and their

Generosity of local farmer creates national impact

Harold and Edythe Marshall’s gift of their 300-acre farm to Michigan State University has been a major boon to understanding the ecology of new biofuel crops, producing research results with national impact by scientists at MSU's Kellogg Biological Station (KBS). Under a unique partnership between the Marshalls and MSU, the farmland east of Hickory Corners in Barry County is enabling scientists from the KBS Long-term Ecological Research (LTER) program and the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) to conduct unique biofuel research with funding from the US Department of Energy

A new approach to soil testing for Michigan farmers: from inputs to indicators of soil health

Each year the KBS LTER program awards two graduate students with summer research fellowships. Here Brendan O'Neill describes the research his summer fellowship supported. Brendan is a Ph.D. student in Tom Schmidt and Phil Robertson's labs. ~~~ My research at the Kellogg Biological Station Long-term Ecological Research (KBS LTER) site has focused on how increasing crop diversity (for example, including cover crops) can enhance soil ecosystem functions while sustaining crop production. Examples of soil ecosystem functions include retaining carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) within the field and