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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Columbia, Missouri » Cropping Systems and Water Quality Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #399597

Research Project: Sustainable Intensification of Cropping Systems on Spatially Variable Landscapes and Soils

Location: Cropping Systems and Water Quality Research

Title: Sanborn Field: the grandparent of soil health

item REINBOTT, TIMOTHY - University Of Missouri
item Veum, Kristen
item Kitchen, Newell
item KREMER, ROBERT - Retired ARS Employee

Submitted to: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/1/2022
Publication Date: 11/6/2022
Citation: Reinbott, T.M., Veum, K.S., Kitchen, N.R., Kremer, R.J. 2022. Sanborn Field: the grandparent of soil health [abstract]. ASA, CSSA, SSSA International Annual Meeting, November 6-9, 2022, Baltimore, Maryland. Paper No. 145772. Available:

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Established in 1888, Sanborn Field is the third oldest continuous research station in the world. Its 38 plots are a treasure of information of the long-term response of a soil to various rotation lengths, fertility, manure, and crop species. Many of the basic soil health parameters were developed utilizing Sanborn Field over the past 130+ years including changes in soil microbiology, soil physical structure, and nutrient interactions. Although some of the treatments have changed over time there is a core of plots where the treatments remain much as they were when established by Dean John Sanborn. In the 1940s MU soil scientists such as William Albrecht, utilizing data collected from Sanborn Field, started developing the hypothesis of the connection between a Healthy Soil, Healthy Plant and Healthy Animal. This and other hypothesis developed during that time are now being tested. For example, recent soil samples in the top 7 cm indicate when wheat is in the rotation and/or manure is applied then the soil physical and microbiological parameters are improved beyond commercial fertilizer or in shorter rotations. Since 1915 soil cores (120 cm) have been taken from each plot approximately every 25 years with last being in November 2020. Each time these cores were characterized and divided into 10-20 cm segments and analyzed for pH, organic matter, primary nutrients, and CEC. The difference in 2020 is that a complete suite of soil health measurements was taken at the soil horizon level throughout the soil profile. This information is not yet fully complete but a summary will be given with a complete analysis presented at the 2023 annual meetings.