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LTER Key Research Findings

Among the many research results from LTER sites, some findings stand out as being particularly important to achieve the LTER goal of providing information to conserve, protect, and manage the nation's ecosystems. Short descriptions of key findings at each site emphasize the importance of long-term data in understanding the pace and pattern of ecological change.

Clean Water (KBS LTER)
Minimizing Nitrogen Pollution Through a variety of long-term studies, KBS LTER research has significantly advanced scientific understanding of nitrogen cycling in cropping systems as well as in the broader landscape. Agricultural landscapes commonly have excessive concentrations of nitrate (an especially mobile form of nitrogen) in ground and surface waters due to fertilizer applications in...
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Climate Change (KBS LTER)
Agriculture and Climate Change Since 1992 scientists at the KBS LTER site have studied fluxes of the major, naturally occurring greenhouse gases (GHGs) -- carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, and nitrous oxide -- in the cropped and natural ecosystems of the Main Cropping System Experiment. These data, coupled with concurrent measurements of soil carbon and fuel and agrochemical use, enabled KBS...
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Diverse Landscapes Curtail Crop Pests (KBS LTER)
The soybean aphid Aphis glycines, an invasive insect pest, is the greatest threat to soybean production in the United States. First detected in the United States in 2000, this East Asian pest has spread rapidly through the Midwest and costs growers about $30 million to $50 million per year in reduced yield. By 2005, farmers had responded with a 20-fold increase in insecticide use, spraying...
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Soil Carbon (KBS LTER)
Soil organic matter, also called soil carbon, is very important to farmers because it contributes to good soil quality and crop productivity. It provides plants and soil organisms with the nutrients and food they need to grow. Soil organic matter also influences many soil physical properties such as drainage and structure which help create a good environment for crop roots and boost crop yields....
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Soil Microbes and Agriculture (KBS LTER)
Microbes in terrestrial environments are important catalysts of global carbon and nitrogen cycles, including the production and consumption of greenhouse gases in soil. Some microbes produce the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxide (N2O) while decomposing organic matter in soil. Others consume methane (CH4) from the atmosphere, thus helping to mitigate climate change. The...
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