The night before the workshop some of us early arrivals met for dinner.
Sara Baer was the lead planner and host of this GRN. Sara is a researcher at Konza who chairs the Plant Biology program at Southern Illinois University. She studies various aspects of soil ecology related to grassland restoration. Thank you Sara for a great workshop!
60 some folks attended. Day one we looked at various long term field experiments. Here are the underground study plots where ideas are tested to see their effects on fungi and other microorganisms, soil characteristics, and above ground species composition.
Konza Biological Station has published something like 1,600 papers, currently has about 120 annual researchers! Their Long Term Ecological Research started in the early 1980s. It is a very significant research station.
Konza is divided into various watersheds for decades long ecological studies. Here is a photo of a watershed that is Fall burned Annually, with no grazing. It has a lot of grass and forbs.
Here is a watershed where it is not grazed, but burned annually in the spring. John Blair noted that the fall and spring fires resulted in very similar prairie.
Here is a patch burn watershed where a third of the unit is burned annually and cows choose where they want to go. They like the recently burned sections and this area was just grazed that morning and likely a number of previous days. Konza has bison too.
About 50 yards away is an unburned section of the patch burn unit with less cattle grazing.
The GRN format has us in the field to see and discuss. Here are some Konza stars: In the aqua blue shirt is Jill Haukos who runs many education programs at Konza, then clockwise is Walter Dodds who showed us his study of the effects on stream water chemistry after thinning brush from an encroached stream. John Briggs runs Konza. Sara Baer, as I noted above, was the lead planner and host of this GRN. Last with the Western hat is KC Olson who works for KSU on the livestock grazing end of research.
Jesse Nippert shows us the watershed that was on a “no fire” plan for 20 years, and now they are reversing the fire regime to annual fire. Now they will get to study how to get the grassland back and give us the science we all can benefit from.