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Sustainable Corn CAP Research Data (USDA-NIFA Award No. 2011-68002-30190)

posted on 2024-02-02, 20:28 authored by Lori AbendrothLori Abendroth, Daryl E. Herzmann, Giorgi Chighladze, Eileen J. Kladivko, Matthew J. Helmers, Laura Bowling, Michael Castellano, Richard M. Cruse, Warren A. Dick, Norman R. Fausey, Jane Frankenberger, Aaron J. Gassmann, Alexandra Kravchenko, Rattan Lal, Joseph G. Lauer, Daren S. Mueller, Emerson D. Nafziger, Nsalambi Nkongolo, Matthew O'Neal, John E. Sawyer, Peter Scharf, Jeffrey S. Strock, Maria B. Villamil

The Sustainable Corn CAP (Cropping Systems Coordinated Agricultural Project: Climate Change, Mitigation, and Adaptation in Corn-based Cropping Systems) was a multi-state transdisciplinary project supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (Award No. 2011-68002-30190). Research experiments were located through the U.S. Corn Belt and examined farm-level adaptation practices for corn-based cropping systems to current and predicted impacts of climate change.

Research data were collected from 2011 to 2015 at research sites in 8 states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The research coverage area spanned 95.3°W to 81.9°W and 38.5°N to 44.7°N. Research sites encompassed a varying set of management practices including crop rotation, cover crop, tillage, drainage, and nitrogen management, with several sites having landscape position incorporated as an additional treatment. These treatments were typically arranged in a randomized complete block design as a complete factorial or main-split plot with 3 to 4 replications per site. It should be noted that none of the sites were identical in terms of treatment structure or data collected as sites were a combination of previously and newly established experiments that aligned with project research goals.

The dataset contains agronomic, soil, water, greenhouse gas, crop disease, and pest data collected from 30 sites. Standardized protocols were developed and followed by the project team for estimating C, N, and water footprints of corn production in the region and performing baseline monitoring. Variables measured during the five-year period include: grain and biomass yield, C and N content in crop grain and vegetation, soil water moisture and temperature, C and N concentration in soil, greenhouse gas fluxes, drainage water quality and quantity, groundwater table and others. Hourly or sub-hourly weather data are also provided for each location.

In addition, the dataset includes site description (e.g. site location, plot area, soil type), field management information (e.g. planting, harvesting, tillage and fertilizer application dates, seeding rate, fertilizer and pesticide type and application rate), and experimental design (e.g. plot identifiers, experimental treatments, variables measured).

Users can query and download data from the Sustainable Corn CAP research web-accessible application. At this website, users can also access site-specific weather data and select the time period of interest for water data (here they are uploaded at a daily interval). In addition to the research data, the web tool also provides a list of over 100 referred journal articles as well as theses and dissertations related to the dataset. Other project-related materials such as fact sheets, videos, and extension publications are available for free download through the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach website and project reports through the Iowa State University Digital Repository.

A complete list of refereed journals, theses, dissertations, and reports published by the Sustainable Corn CAP project team members can be accessed at

Resources in this dataset:

  • Resource Title: Sustainable Corn CAP Research Data .

    File Name: Sustainable_Corn_Research_Data_2011-2015.xlsx

    Resource Description: Data file contains: Plot Identifiers, Agronomic, Soil, GHG, IPM, Water_Tile Flow, Water_Water Quality, Water_Water Table, Field Operations, Pesticides, Site Metadata, Drainage Control Structure Mngt, and Notes.

  • Resource Title: Sustainable Corn Research Data 2011-2015 Data Dictionary.

    File Name: Sustainable_Corn_Research_Data_2011-2015_DataDictionary.csv


USDA-NIFA: 2011-68002-30190


Data contact name

Abendroth, Lori J.

Data contact email


National Agricultural Library - ARS - USDA

Intended use

This project generated data that can provide an integrated understanding of agronomic and environmental (soil, water, GHG) processes in corn-based agroecosystems across the Corn Belt region. Scientists, modelers, producers and policy makers can gain unique insight into the impacts of selected crop management practices on crop yield, greenhouse gas emissions (nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide, methane), soil carbon sequestration, and nitrogen content in drained water. The data will be of great use for calibrating or validating biophysical models at ever-larger scales (field, farm and landscape), which can be coupled with projections from regional climate models to extrapolate the observed results to climate regimes not included within the study period.

Use limitations

To ensure compatibility and integrity of the data, standardized protocols were developed and utilized by the project team to collect baseline C, N and water data from all 30 research fields. Occasionally, the protocols were not adhered to because of technical or environmental constraints resulting in missing or non-standard measurements (e.g. soil samples collected at different depths due to soil freezing). Monitoring instrument and data logger malfunctioning or failure were main reasons for missing water data (e.g. depth of water table), hence care should be taken when interpolating or aggregating those data (e.g. when estimating monthly tile flow). It should be noted that dielectric probes used to measure volumetric soil water content did not have soil-specific calibration. Therefore, syntheses of soil moisture data from different sites should be done with caution. Users should also be aware that some sites were established at the onset of the project while others were in crop production for decades. Hence the treatment effect and dynamics of certain measurement can differ based on previous history of the site. We encourage everyone to familiarize with each research site's history (available via the web tool) before starting data analysis.

Temporal Extent Start Date


Temporal Extent End Date



  • Not specified

Geographic Coverage


Geographic location - description

Minnesota, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin

ISO Topic Category

  • environment
  • farming

National Agricultural Library Thesaurus terms

carbon; corn; greenhouse gases; nitrogen; rye; soybeans; Zea mays; sowing; planting; pests; drainage; pesticides; harvesting; climate; vegetation; tillage; fertilizers; Illinois; Wisconsin; Missouri; Ohio; Michigan; Indiana; Minnesota; Iowa; water quality; climate change; water footprint; nitrogen content; field experimentation; application range; cover crops; landscape position; biomass production; water table; drainage water; soil types; fertilizer application; Corn Belt region; crop rotation; soil water; crop production; data collection; greenhouse gas emissions; National Institute of Food and Agriculture; United States; methane; agroecosystems; farms; crop management; carbon sequestration; carbon dioxide; nitrous oxide; crop yield; soil water content; soil sampling; issues and policy; Farms and Farming Systems

Pending citation

  • No

Public Access Level

  • Public

Preferred dataset citation

Abendroth, Lori J.; Herzmann, Daryl E.; Chighladze, Giorgi; Kladivko, Eileen J.; Helmers, Matthew J.; Bowling, Laura; Castellano, Michael; Cruse, Richard M.; Dick, Warren A.; Fausey, Norman R.; Frankenberger, Jane; Gassmann, Aaron J.; Kravchenko, Alexandra ; Lal, Rattan; Lauer, Joseph G.; Mueller, Daren S.; Nafziger, Emerson D.; Nkongolo, Nsalambi ; O'Neal, Matthew; Sawyer, John E.; Scharf, Peter; Strock, Jeffrey S.; Villamil, Maria B. (2017). Sustainable Corn CAP Research Data (USDA-NIFA Award No. 2011-68002-30190). National Agricultural Library - ARS - USDA.