KBS042:Living Field Laboratory

The Living Field Laboratory is a long-term rotation study established in 1993 under the direction of Emeritus Professor Dr. Richard Harwood to evaluate the benefits of cover crops (as green manure) and/or the addition of composted dairy manure in two integrated systems compared to a conventional and an organic system. The LFL accommodates every entry point of the crop rotation each year and has a factorial design that allows for the comparison of a number of interactions. These interactions include: differences in N management, rotation effects, and cover crops. From 1993 through 2005, the rotation consisted of corn (Zea mays L.)/corn/soybean (Glycine max)/wheat (Triticum aestivum) vs. continuous corn. During this period, crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum L.) was seeded to 1st yr. corn, 2nd yr corn was in rye grass (Lolium multiflorum), soybean had no cover, and red clover (Trifolium pretense L.) was frost-seeded into wheat.

In 2006, under the direction of Dr. Sieglinde Snapp and through consultation with a farmer advisory group, the rotation was shortened to a 3 yr rotation of corn/soybean/wheat vs. continuous corn. The remaining plot in each management system was converted to a 2 yr rotation of corn/soybean. Cereal rye (Secale cereale) is now planted after corn regardless of crop rotation. Cereal rye follows soybean in the 2-yr rotation. Red clover is frost-seeded into wheat.

The management systems are: Conventional, Integrated Fertilizer and Integrated Compost. Weed management is identical across systems, and nitrogen fertilizer management adjusted to take into account soil N availability and balance nitrogen inputs across treatments. The cover crop is present as a split plot (plus minus) within each system. The split-plot cover crop treatment was established in 1993 in Integrated Fertilizer and in Integrated Compost, while the split-plot cover crop treatment was established 14 years later in 2007 in the Conventional treatment, to allow a comparison of short and long-term cover crop presence.

In 2007, the organic management system was changed to a comparison of a perennial grain systems (perennial wheat-alfalfa intercrop) and a 4-yr rotation of corn/soybean/wheat/ alfalfa (Medicago sativa). This allows the comparison of a typical Michigan field crop organic system to a novel system that involves a new, perennial system.


KBS042-001 Soil Classification

In 1992 the Living Field Laboratory site was mapped for soil texture, horizon identification, and soil classification on the plots that were selected for lysimeter installation. These plots were mapped prior to the installation of the lysimeters. The remaining plots were mapped in the spring of 1993.

KBS042-002 Soil Class Descriptions

KBS042-003 Soil Texture by Horizon

Soil texture by horizon and depth of soils of the Living Field Lab Experiment.

KBS042-004 Texture Descriptions

KBS042-005 Tillage

Tillage consists of chisel plow, field cultivate, row cultivate, and rotary hoe on various plots. All equipment provided by KBS.

KBS042-006 Planting Log

Log of planting date,rate, seed variety, management,etc. on the Living Field Lab. Corn and soybeans are planted at a 30 inch row spacing and wheat drilled at a 7 inch spacing.

KBS042-007 Cover Crop Log

Log of cover crop planting date, rate, variety, management, etc.  All cover crops are purchased from Michigan State Seed (Grand Ledge, MI). Cover crops are planted on the west half of each plot in 1st year corn, 2nd year corn, and wheat (except for the conventional management plots).

The different varieties used included:

  1. Annual ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum Lam.)
  2. Hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth)
  3. Red clover v. Michigan mammoth (Trifolium pratense L.)
  4. Crimson clover
KBS042-008 Fertilizer application on the LFL

Log of fertilizer date, type, amount, management, etc. Starter fertilizer was applied to corn when planted; nitrogen applied after PSNT (pre sidedress nitrate test) in June. No fertilizer was applied to soybeans. Fertilizer was applied to wheat in early spring; applied in fall at planting through 1994. Lime was applied to all plots on 9/29/1992 at a rate of 2T/a.

KBS042-009 Compost
Log of compost application date, rate, source, management, etc.  Compost is applied to the organic and compost management treatments and is the only nutrient source of these plots. Composted dairy manure is used and is obtained from various sources. The application rate takes into account the %Moisture and the total %N present in the compost. It is applied on the basis of estimated nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium requirements. It is applied on a dry weight basis. In 1995 the application rate was determined after correction for sand content.
KBS042-010 Herbicides and Pesticides

Herbicide and pesticide application rate, date, type, etc.Herbicides and pesticides were applied in spring prior to planting; banded herbicides in the fertilizer treatments and broadcast herbicides in the conventional treatments. Applied as needed any time thereafter.

KBS042-011 Herbicide and Pesticide Composition
Components or active ingredients of the herbicides or pesticides.

KBS042-012 Harvest
Harvest dates, crop, management, etc.

KBS042-013 Soil Carbon Mineralization via Lab Incubations

Measurement of carbon dioxide produced in lab incubations of soils by depth from plots of the Living Field Lab Experiment.

KBS042-014 Soil Nitrogen Mineralization via Lab Incubations - Raw Data

Soil nitrate and ammonium concentrations in lab incubations of soils with depth from plots of the Living Field Lab Experiment.

KBS042-015 Soil Total Carbon and Nitrogen

Total carbon and nitrogen content of soils from the Living Field Lab Experiment.

KBS042-016 Soil Inorganic Nitrogen

Soil nitrate and ammonium concentrations of soils from the Living Field Lab Experiment.

KBS042-017 Soil Inorganic Nitrogen by Depth - Deep Cores

Soil nitrate and ammonium concentrations with depth in soils of the Living Field Lab Experiment.

KBS042-018 Soil Leachate - Nitrate via Suction Lysimeters

Volume and nitrate concentration of soil water leachate collected from plots of the Living Field Laboratory using suction lysimeters.

KBS042-019 Soil Leachate - Inorganic Nitrogen via Gravity Lysimeters

Volume and inorganic nitrogen concentration of soil water leachate collected from the Living Field Laboratory using gravity-fed lysimeters.

KBS042-020 Soil Test Lab Analyses - Agronomic

Soil chemisty test results from Living Field Lab soils.

KBS042-021 Agronomic Yields

Agronomic yield data of crops grown in the Living Field Lab Experiment.


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