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Sample don’t trample

The golf hole cutter made work easy.

This week we completed the drought experiment at Leland. The experiment was to see how climate change can impact plant competitive ability under drought and non-drought conditions. Last year the experiment was done with morning glory, and this year it is with bur cucumber. The bur cucumber was transplanted from a corn field in Barton to our field in Leland.

We then placed 16 rain shelters into the field. The plots in the field varied with different bur cucumber densities between corn rows, and each density had a drought and non-drought area. Then we put moisture sensors 6 inches into the ground. Rain water was collected in gutters and dispersed by tile drains. As we did moisture readings each week I got an idea of how well the shelters were working.

Bur cucumber within corn row.

When collecting moisture readings I had to be careful not to trample the crops. This is a challenge when I collect Rye or Kernza samples. But in this field I had to be extra careful not to get caught in the bur cucumber or trip over the cable holding down the shelters. The Bur cucumber grew vigorously next to the corn using its tendrils to climb. For five weeks data was recorded. We discovered that a rodent had bitten one of the cables where were finding negative data. It is visible obvious that the corn under the shelters has been stunted. We also collected corn height for each subplot. Using the data we’ve collected we will get a better understanding of how climate change impacts weed species’ competitive ability.

Here is a video that helps visualize the extent of the low precipitation in Ithaca: Taughannock_Falls_drought-14cis42

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