About Field Sites
Konza Prairie Agroecosystem (KONA) is a terrestrial NEON field site is located in the Flint Hills region of Kansas just 10 km (6 mi.) south of Manhattan, KS. Sampling occurs in a 3.6 km2 (903 acre) area of cultivated crop fields owned and managed by Kansas State University’s Department of Agronomy and Department of Animal Science and Industry. The site is focused on sampling within agricultural systems. The surrounding region consists of grasslands, forests, and agricultural land cover types and includes the largest remaining areas of unplowed tallgrass prairie in North America. KONA is part of the NEON Prairie Peninsula Domain (D06), which stretches from Kansas through Nebraska and Iowa to southern Minnesota, and moves east to encompass Illinois and most of Indiana. The Domain hosts four other NEON field sites: two aquatic and two additional terrestrial, all of which are located in Kansas. KONA is colocated with the KING aquatic field site and just 5 km (~3 miles) west of the KONZ terrestrial site. The two sites provide a contrast between more pristine prairie at KONZ and heavily impacted agricultural land at KONA within the same area. Land use and land use management are key grand challenge themes for this Domain. 
KONA is located within Riley County, which is in the eastern half of Kansas and has a continental climate characterized by warm, wet summers and cold, dry winters. The average annual temperature is 12.7°C (54°F). The average annual precipitation is 850 mm (33.5 in.) and is sufficient to support woodland or savanna vegetation. The region is known for intense summer storms brought on by moist air from the Gulf of Mexico coming up from the south and colliding with the cold, dry air coming down from the north. Large rainfall events can cause flooding of roads and fields as the rivers overrun with water. Other large weather events common in the area are wildfires and tornadoes.   
The agricultural fields at KONA are composed of alluvium, a type of sediment deposited by flowing water made of gravel, sand, silt, clay, or other rock particulates. The fields lie above the Chase group, which is a geologic group from the early Permian laid down in the Gearyan stage. The group is composed of cherty limestone and green or red shale. Chert is another term for flint, meaning a sedimentary rock composed of quartz. It this “flinty” limestone that gives the Flint Hills, home of the Konza Prairie, its name.   
The dominant soil series is Chase silty clay loam, rarely flooded. The soil remains silty clay loam to a depth of 0.33 m (1 ft.), where it changes to silty clay. It is somewhat poorly drained and has a moderately low to moderately high water capacity.  
The northern NEON plots at the Northern Agronomy Farm drain into the Big Blue River, while the southern NEON plots at the Ashland Bottom Farm drain into the McDowell Creek. Both of these water sources are tributaries to the larger Kansas River. 
All sampling plots in KONA are located in cultivated crop fields. Crops vary year to year but the most commonly planted are wheat, corn, milo, soybeans, alfalfa, and oats. 
Although plots are used for agriculture, they still host an abundance of wildlife. Common species in the region include white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), coyotes (Canis latrans) and turkey vultures (Cathartes aura). While deer are commonly spotted around KONA, its most abundant species are often smaller, such as Woodhouse’s toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii), the great plains skink (Plestiodon obsoletus), and various species of beetles. The America burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus) is a federally endangered species known to inhabit the area. NEON provides data on five types of wildlife at KONA: birds, ground beetles, mosquitoes, small mammals, and ticks.  
Past Land Management and Use
The Konza Prairie was once part of a wide-ranging tallgrass prairie that stretched across Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, and the Dakotas. The Kansas region of the prairie is home to the Kaw Nation, also known as the “People of the Southwind.” During the eighteenth century, white settlers made contact with the Kaw Nation. After the Indian Removal Act of 1830, the American government took over the land.
The South Half of the PrairieIn 1860, the land, still wild prairie, was broken down and plowed by John Pattee. He built a farmhouse and other improvements. The farm changed hands several times until it fell into the hands of Rev. William Knipe a few years later. Knipe made more improvements to the farm, adding hedges and new buildings, and lived there for forty years. The State of Kansas, and thus the college, purchased the land in 1909.
The North Half of the FarmMr. Jon. F. Currier owned the northern half of the prairie in 1895, and from that year until 1906 the land was rented to various parties and was always under cultivation. Although the exact details of the land’s owners and status changed, it continued to be planted from 1906 to 1909.
College’s Possession of the FarmIn 1909, both the South Half and the North Half of the prairie were purchased by the State of Kansas for the Kansas State Agricultural College, later known as Kansas State University. The fields were called the Agronomy Farm, and Floyd Howard was named as the first foreman. He began the work of improving the farm by removing hedges and some buildings and straightening up others. One of the main goals was to improve the fertility of the fields and the ultimate intention was to run the Agronomy farm as a model farm. 
Current Land Management and Use
The land is managed by Kansas State University’s Department of Agronomy and Department of Animal Science and Industry. KSU’s Department of Agronomy “provides statewide leadership in teaching, research and extension in crop, soil and range sciences.” Their research focuses on subjects such as cropping and tilling systems, management practices, and weed science. NEON plots are located in the North Agronomy Farm and the Ashland Bottoms Farm. The Department of Animal Science and Industry manages 6500 acres of land for research purposes. Their research involves animal health, breeding, and nutrition as well as food and meat sciences. Their goal is to ultimately provide consumers safe, high-quality food products. Although none of NEON’s KONA plots are located on animal-grazed land, it's possible to see the dairy cows from some plots.    
NEON Site Establishment
Site characterization at KONA was completed in 2016 and the site was operation-ready in 2017. Due to the plot’s location in agriculture fields, NEON’s standard way of marking plots (with PVC and surface-level metal monuments to mark key points) was not attainable. Therefore, rare earth magnetic markers were placed a meter below the surface soil to mark the center of each plot. This allows the markers to remain untouched by agriculture activities such as tilling, plowing and harvesting. The distributed plots were allocated at KONA according to a spatially balanced and stratiﬁed-random design. The flux tower, which stands 8 m (26 ft.) tall and has four instrument levels, was completed in 2015 and began operating in 2016. Our NEON scientists protect the tower and its array of sensors and equipment by hand-sowing and harvesting the crops nearest the tower. 
 Terrestrial Observation System (TOS) Site Characterization Report: Domain 06 NEON.DOC.003890vB
D06 FIU Site Characterization: Summary NEON.DOC.011079vB
 D06 FIU Site Characterization: Supporting Data NEON.DOC.011078vB
 Goodin, D.G., Mitchell, J.E., Knapp, M.C., & Bivens, R.E. (1995). Climate and Weather Atlas of Kansas: An Introduction. Kansas Geologic Survey. https://www.k-state.edu/ksclimate/documents/kgsed.pdf
 Kansas State University. (n.d.) About the Department. https://www.agronomy.k-state.edu/about-us/
 Kansas State University. (n.d.) Animal Sciences and Industry. https://www.asi.k-state.edu/about/
 Kansas Agricultural Experiment Station Research Reports. (2019) Kansas Field Research, Volume5, Issue 6. https://newprairiepress.org/kaesrr/vol5/iss6/
 Kansas State University (n.d.) Animal Sciences and Industry: Research and Extension. https://www.asi.k-state.edu/research-and-extension/
 O’Conner, H.G., Zeller, D.E., Bayne, C.K., Jewett, M.J., Swineford, A. (2005, August) Permian System. Stratigraphic Succession in Kansas (1968). http://www.kgs.ku.edu/Publications/Bulletins/189/08_perm.html
 King, H.M. (n.d.) Chert. Geology: Geoscience News and Information. https://geology.com/rocks/chert.shtml
 United States Geological Survey. (n.d.) Chase Group. https://mrdata.usgs.gov/geology/state/sgmc-unit.php?unit=KSPc%3B0
 United States Geological Survery (n.d.) Stream Stats. https://streamstats.usgs.gov/ss/
 The Kaw Nation. (n.d.) Kanza People. The Kaw Nation: People of the Southwind. http://kawnation.com/?page_id=72
 Kansas State University. (2001, June) Agronomy Farm History. https://www.agronomy.k-state.edu/about-us/department-history/
 PRISM Climate Group., Oregon State University, http://prism.oregonstate.edu, created 4 Feb 2004.
 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1991. American Burying Beetle (Nicrophorus americanus) Recovery Plan. Newton Corner, Massachusetts. 80 pp. https://www.fws.gov/southdakotafieldoffice/ABBRecoveryPlan.pdf
 Center for Biological Diversity. (n.d.) American Burying Beetle. https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/esa_works/profile_pages/A…
 United States Geological Survey. (n.d.) Alluvium. In Water Basics Glossary. Retrieved April 9, 2020 from https://water.usgs.gov/water-basics_glossary.html
 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Midwest Endangered Species. (2019 May 29) Mead's Milkweed (Asclepias meadii). https://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/plants/meads/index.html
 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Midwest Endangered Species. (2019 May 29) Prairie Fringed Orchids Fact Sheet. https://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/plants/prairief.html
Remote sensing surveys of this field site collect lidar, spectrometer and high-resolution RGB camera data.
This site has a flux/meteorological tower that is 8 m (26 ft) tall with four 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 are collected by a tipping bucket at the top of the tower and a series of throughfalls located in the soil array.
Soil Sensor Measurements
This site has five soil plots placed in an array within the airshed of the flux tower. Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR) at soil surface, soil heat flux, solar radiation, and throughfall are measured at the soil surface in each soil plot. Soil moisture, soil temperature, and CO2 concentration are measured at multiple depths in each soil plot.
At terrestrial sites, field ecologists observe birds and plants, and sample ground beetles, mosquitoes, small mammals, soil microbes, and ticks. Lab analyses are carried out to provide further data on DNA sequences, pathogens, soils, sediments, and biogeochemistry. Learn more about terrestrial observations or explore this site's data products.
Field Site Data
Kansas State University
Site Access Allowed
Site Access Details
KSU - Konza Prairie Biological Station (KSU) welcomes and encourages research use that fits their mission and is compatible with their abilities as a host. Please plan on at more than two weeks advance notice to request and plan site access.
NEON Field Operations Office
NEON Field Operations Address
1500 Hayes Drive
Manhattan, KS 66502
NEON Field Operations Phone
Mean Annual Temperature
Mean Annual Precipitation
Dominant Wind Direction
Dominant NLCD Classes
Average number of green days
Average first greenness increase date
Average peak green date
Average first greenness decrease date
Average minimum greenness date
Number of Tower Levels
USGS Geology Unit
USGS Geology Name
USGS Lithologic Constituents
Unconsolidated clay, silt, sand and gravel
USGS Geology Age
Megapit Soil Family
Fine, smectitic, mesic. Pachic Vertic Argiudolls.
Pachic Vertic Argiudolls
Other Domain D06 Field Sites
Other Field Sites in KS