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NEON Sampling Boundaries
Tower Airshed Boundary
This map depicts the spatial layout of this field site. Please note that some locations may have moved over time due to logistics, safety and science requirements.
This map was updated on January 11, 2019
Construction Status for this Site
The North Sterling site, located outside of Sterling in Northeastern Colorado, is characterized by flat terrain and represents an agronomic site within urban and formerly urban areas.
Site history & management
The site is at the edge of a non-tilled experimental field that is used for the long-term sustainable Dryland Agroecosystems Project (DAP), which was initiated in 1985 at three sites in eastern Colorado (Sterling, Stratton, and Walsh) to evaluate the effects of cropping intensity on production, water use efficiency and selected soil chemical and physical properties. The DAP site was established in 1985 and was chosen because of representative soils present in the catena.
Total data products planned for this site: 110
Site Host & Access Site Host:
Is additional non-NEON research allowed at this site?:
Limited. At this time, the site host will allow a limited amount of non-NEON research activities in this area at their discretion. Researchers must obtain their own permits with the site host(s).
Site Characteristics Latitude/Longitude:40.4619, -103.0293 Elevation:1364 m Mean Annual Temperature:8C/46.4F Mean Annual Precipitation:370 mm Dominant NLCD Classes:
Before establishment of the no-till cropping systems, the site was under conventional tillage since it was taken from native sod in about 1910. Conventional tillage from 1910 to 1985 ranged from moldboard plowing in the early years to sweep tillage in the later years. The primary crop was winter wheat grown in a wheat-fallow rotation. Proso millet also had been grown occasionally during a few years before 1985. Cropping systems under no-till management were initiated in 1985. These systems included:
Winter wheat (
Triticum aestivum L.)-fallow Winter wheat-maize (
Zea mays L.)-fallow Winter wheat-maize-proso millet (
Panicum miliaceum L.)-fallow Continuous cropping (crops grown over the years included maize, sorghum, winter wheat, forage millet, and sunflower)
Grass stands were established in the spring of 1986 and contain a mixture of perennial species including warm and cool season grasses.
Summers in Sterling are hot with low humidity and winters are typically around freezing point but can drop to lower temperatures. Occasional hailstorms and thunderstorms are expected during the growing seasons. North Sterling also experiences seasonal high winds and tornados. NEON’s North Sterling site is owned privately and managed by a local farmer; it is subject to the shifting agronomic and economic needs of the area.
Ogallala Formation, alternating conglomerates and sandstones. Cenozoic.
USGS HUC: h10250002
Mean Canopy Height:
The mean canopy height is 1'.
Fine, silty, mixed, superactive, mesic. Pachic Argiustolls.
The dominant wind direction is northwest.
This site provides a baseline understanding of the regional effects of climate change and chemical climate, including dust and Front Range pollution, to understand and contrast ecological process with other within- and cross-domain analyses. NEON collects a standard suite of data at North Sterling; however, data from this particular location provides a baseline for evaluating changes due to invasive species and infectious disease along a rural wildland, suburban fringe, urban gradient in time or space. Overall, the Front Range of Colorado is growing at 3 times the national average with the population expected to surpass 5.7 million by 2030. Conversion of native vegetation to urban and suburban landscapes drastically alters biological diversity, reduces soil organic matter and alters the temporal and spatial distribution of plant biomass. This relocatable site is designed to represent economic and agronomic decisions typically found in farming practices in eastern Colorado, which is a shifting agricultural site in Domain 10.
Data Collection Types
Airborne Remote Sensing Surveys
Remote sensing surveys of this field site collect lidar, spectrometer and high-resolution RGB camera data.
The flux/meteorological tower at this site is 26’ with 4 measurement levels. The tower top extends above the vegetation canopy to allow sensors mounted at the top and along the tower to capture the full profile of atmospheric conditions from the top of the vegetation canopy to the ground. The tower collects physical and chemical properties of atmosphere-related processes, such as humidity, wind, and net ecosystem gas exchange. Precipitation data may be collected by a tipping bucket at the top of the tower, a Double Fence Intercomparison Reference (DFIR) near the tower, and a series of throughfalls located in the soil array.
This site has one phenocam on the top of the flux tower and one near the bottom of the tower.
Soil Sensor Measurements
This site has five soil plots placed in an array within the airshed of the flux tower. The following measurements may be collected at the soil surface in each soil plot:
Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR) at soil surface
Soil heat flux
Throughfall (removed in 2018 due to short stature crops)
The following measurements are collected at multiple depths in each soil plot:
Field ecologists collect the following types of observational data at this site:
Other Domain 10 Field Sites
Core Aquatic | Wadeable Stream | Colorado
Distance: 58 mi.
Core Terrestrial | Colorado
Distance: 93 mi.
Relocatable Terrestrial | Colorado
Distance: 133 mi.
Field Operations Office
1685 38th Street, Suite 100
Boulder, CO 80301