Sanderson, M. A., Liebig, M. A., Hendrickson, J. R., Kronberg, S. L., Toledo, D., Derner, J. D. and Reeves, J. L. 2015. Long-term agroecosystem research on northern Great Plains mixed-grass prairie near Mandan, North Dakota. Can. J. Plant Sci. 95: 1101-1116. In 1915, a stocking rate experiment was started on 101 ha of native mixed-grass prairie at the Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory (NGPRL) near Mandan, ND (100.9132N, 46.7710W). Here, we document the origin, evolution, and scientific outcomes from this long-term experiment. Four pastures of 12.1, 20.2, 28.3, and 40.5 ha were laid out and stocked continuously from May until October with 2-yr-old or yearling beef steers at four rates [initially 0.98, 1.39, 1.83, and 2.4 animal unit months ha-1]. The experiment generated some of the first information on the resilience of mixed-grass prairie to grazing and drought and relationships of livestock productivity to soil moisture for predictive purposes. After 1945, the experiment was reduced to the light and heavy stocking rate pastures only, which have been managed and grazed in approximately the same manner to the present day. The pastures were used to assess responses of vegetation to fertilizer in the 1950s and 1960s, develop grazing readiness tools in the 1990s, and assess remote sensing technologies in the 2000s. The long-term pastures currently serve as a unique resource to address contemporary questions dealing with drought, soil quality, carbon dynamics, greenhouse gas emissions, invasive species, and climate change.
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