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

KBS LTER synthesis book published

As spring approaches, thousands of farmers across the Midwest are preparing for planting, knowing well the importance of their work in supplying society with food. They may be less aware of the potential for their row crops to provide a host of additional benefits, including clean water, habitat for beneficial insects such as pollinators, and even climate change mitigation. Agriculture’s role in providing such benefits has been the subject of over 25 years of research at the Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) in southwest Michigan. With long-term support from the National Science Foundation and

Paradigm shifts: Re-envisioning agricultural landscapes to optimize ecosystem services

In 2013, the United Nations released a report projecting that the global population will reach 9.6 billion by the year 2050. This increase of 2.4 billion people between now and then is already beginning to challenge the world’s agricultural communities to provide adequate food, fuel and fiber while employing sustainable practices that conserve natural resources. The feat becomes more complex when coupled with the increasing demand to grow more bioenergy crops, combat biodiversity declines and regenerate the habitat of agriculturally important insects. Doug Landis, Michigan State University

Mud matters: reflections from a KBS LTER grad

Each year the KBS LTER program awards two graduate students with summer research fellowships. Here Dustin Kincaid describes the research his summer fellowship supported. Dustin is a Ph.D. student in Steve Hamilton's lab. ~~~ “ . . . the world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful” -ee cummings Mud matters. Especially in shallow water bodies. Or at least I’m convinced it matters—enough to spend most of my 2014 field season hip and often eyeball deep in mud anyways. As water flows across the landscape, interactions with mud, or more appropriately, sediments, influence the fluxes of

International training program promotes sustainable agriculture around the globe

This news piece by KBS LTER volunteer and retired journalist Bill Krasean. For 20 years agricultural scientists, policy makers and program managers have been coming from all over the world to Michigan State University’s Kellogg Biological Station Long-term Ecological Research (KBS LTER) site to study integrated pest management (IPM) and sustainable agriculture practices. Now Michigan State University (MSU) is turning the tables and taking the highly regarded agriculture program to them. "We have built a global network and now we are taking the program overseas so that more people

Close to nature at KBS: reflections from a summer intern

By Alex Whitlow, a 2014 summer intern at the Kellogg Biological Station working with the KBS LTER, MSU Extension, and KBS scientists. Alex's internship was funded by MSU Extension. Until this summer, the vast majority of my life was spent within the deep suburban sprawl of metro Detroit, where shopping malls and large almost-mansion took up most of the landscape. The most I saw of the human and natural ecosystem overlap came from the random, sparsely placed metro parks that served to feed suburbanites their daily dose of nature. Even when I started school at the farm-surrounded Michigan

Soil is life – let’s keep it healthy! Reflections from an undergrad researcher

Each summer the KBS LTER supports students to participate in the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program, funded by the National Science Foundation. This is part of a larger undergraduate research program at KBS. Alessandra Zuniga, a senior at New Mexico State University, writes about her REU experience working with KBS LTER scientists Christine Sprunger and Brendan O'Neill. Coming from the hot arid deserts of the southwest, I never expected to find myself in the middle of lush green Michigan. I was born and raised in the city of Las Cruces, New Mexico and had the privilege to