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Agriculture lends new breadth to scientific discovery in Northeastern Colorado

April 27, 2011

The National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) and CSU announced in late April a cutting-edge, scientific research and collaboration that is, for the most part, taking place in a cornfield in northeast Colorado.

The farm, located outside of Sterling, is hosting NEON’s newest prototype site and a monitoring station managed by CSU. Data collected there is contributing to scientists’ understanding of agriculture management strategies to cope with drought and the interaction between agriculture and existing ecosystems.

First of 62 sites in U.S.

NEON, which is headquartered in Boulder, will be the first observatory network of its kind designed to detect and enable forecasting of ecological change at continental scales over multiple decades. NEON’s prototype site in Sterling is the first of 62 sites that will be placed around the U.S. to collect ecological data.

An event announcing the collaboration took place at CSU’s Northeast Regional Engagement Center in Sterling on April 27. The event featured a research showcase and discussion about CSU and NEON projects in the area. A field trip to NEON’s prototype site just outside of Sterling followed. 

Collaboration with scientists, students

“Being a part of this network will give our CSU researchers new opportunities to collaborate with other scientists from around the country,” said Gene Kelly, professor in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences and one of the lead researchers on the NEON project.

“CSU students will also benefit from the educational and training opportunities provided by the NEON program," Kelly said. "This site will provide a model for assessing the vulnerability of agricultural ecosystems in the western margins of the Great Plains to global climate change. It also has the potential to generate substantial new research funding for CSU.”

More on NEON

The National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) is a National Science Foundation project designed to collect data across the United States on the impacts of climate change, land use change and invasive species on natural resources and biodiversity. The data NEON collects will be freely available over the web for science, education and decision-support purposes. For more information, go to

Colorado State University, a four-year public research university located in Fort Collins, is a member institution of NEON, Inc. The Northeast Regional Engagement Center is a partnership between the Colorado State University Office of Engagement, Northeastern Junior College, and Morgan Community College. The center provides meeting space for community groups and serves as a connection to partner resources.

Contact: Jim Beers
Phone: (970) 491-6401