About Field Sites
The Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory (NOGP) is a terrestrial NEON field site located 9.6 km (6 mi.) west of Bismarck, North Dakota. The sampling area is about 6 km2 (1483 acres), placed on land that has been managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Agriculture Research Service (ARS) for over 100 years. The site is full of sprawling grassland vegetation which represent much of NEON's 770,995 km2 (190.5 million acre) Northern Plains Domain (D09), NEON's second largest Domain. D09 includes two other terrestrial field sites and two aquatic field sites. NOCP is not colocated with an aquatic site.  
North Dakota has continental climate characterized by vast variations in both seasonal and daily temperatures. Air flow throughout the region creates windy conditions. In the winter, arctic air masses create cold and dry conditions. Summer airflow from the Northern Pacific air masses bring warmer dry conditions, while occasional tropical air flow creates warm and wet conditions. This highly variably shift in air masses ultimately provides North Dakota with moderate precipitation annually of around 330-508 mm (13-20 in.). Average annual temperature ranges from 2.8-6.1°C (37-43°F), with winters often below -17.8°C (0°F) and summers above 32°C (90°F). The mean annual temperature in the vicinity is 5.9°C (42.6°F) and mean annual precipitation is 455 mm (18 in.). Preipitation varies from year to year, with more precipitation falling during the summer months when thunderstorm activity is the highest. Weather exhibits extreme variability, with periodic droughts, hailstorms, fluctuations in temperature, and frequent strong winds. The most severe storms can produce hail, tornadoes, or damaging straight-line winds.   
NOGP sits above the Oahe Formation, a geologic formation from the late Quaternary age consisting predominately of wind-blown silt.  
Soils at NOGP are nearly all Mollisols, which is characteristic of prairie grasslands. They are part of the subgroup Typic Argiustolls and have surface horizons that are dark and mollic with a thickness of 18-89 cm (7-35 in.). A small area of a shallow entisol of the Cabba series also exists at the site. Parent materials are sedimentary sandstone, siltstone, mudstone, and shale.  
NOGP has vast spanses of prairie potholes across its landscape. Prairie potholes are both seasonal and year-long depressional freshwater wetlands that fill with snowmelt and rain during spring and summer storms.
The Great Plains region is dominated by native grasslands, tame grasses, legumes, and many species of wildflowers. Smooth Brome (Bromus inermis L.) and Kentucky blue grass (Poa pretensis L.) dominate the NOGP tower area along with various crop species planted depending on type of research being conducted in the field site. The five most common species within NOGP include Russian Olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia L.), Kentucky Bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.), Snowberry (Symphoricarpos occidentalis Hook.), Green Needlegrass (Nassella viridula (Trin.)), and Smooth Brome (Bromus inemis Leyss). 
Some animals that call this region home include Bison (Bison bison), Red fox (Vulpes vulpes), Coyote (Canis latrans), American Badger (Taxidea taxus), and more. NEON collects data on four types of wildlife here: small mammals, birds, mosquitoes, and ground beetles. Common species collected at NOGP include the Thirteen-lined squirrel (Ictidomus tredecemlineatus), Deer Mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus), and many ground beetles such as Cyclotrachelus torvus.   
Past Land Management and Use
The Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory was established by Congress on August 8, 1912 to respond to the needs of farmers and ranchers of the Northern Plains. Research began in 1914 on vegetables, shrubs, ornamentals, berries, fruits, wheat, flax, forages, grazing management, windbreaks, and forestry. Research programs have changed significantly across the years; programs focused on evaluating trees and shrubs for windbreaks, developing methods to reclaim mine-land spoils, and examining the feasibility of dairy production, have been replaced with new long-term research. The prairie section at NOGP was historically grazed and hayed with no history of tillage; however, it has been undisturbed since 2005. The arable section at NOGP has been managed for annual grain production for over 50 years but has not been tilled since 1992.   
Current Land Management and Use
The Northern Great Plain Research Laboratory has been conducting agricultural studies for over a hundred years at the NOGP site. Their mission is “To develop adaptive and integrative practices for sustainable, crop, livestock and rangeland systems.” The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) manages the land, focusing on developing solutions to agricultural problems that affect millions of Americans.  
NEON Site Establishment
NOGP plots were officially established in November 2015, with a last phase of development with the instrumentation tower in July of 2017. Sensor data started collection in July 2017. Sampling for Terrestrial Observations began in August 2016, making it one of the earlier sites to be sampled within NEON.
 Terrestrial Observation System (TOS) Site Characterization Report: Domain 09. NEON.DOC.003893vB
 Clayton, L., Moran, S.R., & Bickely, W.B. (1976) Stratigraphy, origin, and climactic implications of the late quaternary upland silt in North Dakota. North Dakota Geological Survey. https://www.dmr.nd.gov/ndgs/documents/Publication_List/pdf/MiscSeries/M…
 Heilig, Jeanne. 2017. NEON Site Level Plot Summary, Northern Great Plains (NOGP), November 2017. https://data.neonscience.org/documents/10179/2361410/NOGP_Soil_SiteSumm…
 U.S. Geological Survey, 2005, Mineral Resources Data System: U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia. https://mrdata.usgs.gov/mrds/
 Terrestrial Instrument System (TIS, FIU) Site Characterization Supporting Data: Domain 09. NEON.DOC.011055vB
 PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, http://prism.oregonstate.edu,created 4 Feb 2004.
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.
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, and solar radiation 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
USDA Agricultural Research Service
Site Access Allowed
Site Access Details
This site host welcomes and encourages additional research activities related to the USDA Agricultural Research Service mission.
NEON Field Operations Office
NEON Field Operations Address
1503 Business Loop East
Jamestown, ND 58401
NEON Field Operations Phone
Mean Annual Temperature
Mean Annual Precipitation
Dominant Wind Direction
Mean Canopy Height
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
Oahe Formation- Windblown Silt
USGS Lithologic Constituents
USGS Geology Age
Pleistocene to Holocene
Megapit Soil Family
Fine, loamy, mixed, superactive, frigid. Typic Argiustolls.
Other Domain D09 Field Sites
Other Field Sites in ND