Research Guidelines

Please fill out the following information and submit it to Kate Scow, You can also download the guidelines as a Word document here.

Your name:
Your email address:
Name of faculty member with overall responsibility for this research:
Department and university:
Name of person organizing field operations, if different:

  1. Summarize the proposed research giving a descriptive title of your proposed research project (e.g., "Comparison of soil water status in rainfed fallow/wheat vs. WLCC/wheat systems.") and a brief description of what scientific question(s) you are trying to answer.
  2. If you only need archival sampling, we have archival soil samples, composited by depth for each plot for 1993, 1995, and 1997. We also have small quantities of plant samples from each year. Due to the anticipated demand for these samples over the decades, we can only release the amount actually used for analysis. If you have concerns about the uniformity of these samples, you can request enough to run two or more replicates of each sample. Contact Israel Herrera to discuss your needs. 
  3. What kind of field sampling will you need to do and what are the approximate dates of field sampling? 
  4. If you will need advance notice of certain field operations (e.g., coordinate sampling with irrigation), please specify. 
  5. Which cropping system(s) at Russell Ranch (each a two-year rotation) and which phase of the rotation will you study? Note that the use of 15N is allowed in the phase where wheat is not present or the phase where tomatoes are present. 
  6. Will your research require any modification of farming operations? Any additional costs for labor, farm equipment rental, or materials will be charged to the faculty member submitting the proposal. 
  7. If the activities described in this proposal will use microplots already assigned to you, please specify the microplot numbers (from 1-40, click for microplot map).
  8. How many microplots are you requesting per plot? 
  9. What account number will cover charges for additional crop management costs or microplot fees? 
  10. If you plan to install dataloggers, neutron probe access tubes, etc., that could be damaged by farm equipment, please specify what will be installed in your microplots, when they will be installed and removed, and any special arrangements to avoid damage during field operations. Example: "Soil temperature probes will be installed after crop emergence and removed before harvest. Probes will be placed in the crop row where they will not be damaged by cultivation, but we will need prior notice of cultivation so that we can disconnect cables connecting temperature probes to our dataloggers, which will be placed at the edge of the field." 
  11. If you will need to specify the timing of some farming operations, such as irrigation or harvest, please explain. Example: "Ideally, the first irrigation of the year should occur on the same day for all systems studied. However, a difference of up to two days is acceptable." Because the timing of operations is constrained by weather and equipment availability, an otherwise acceptable proposal may be rejected if harvesting or irrigating at a particular time is required. 
  12. Will you need assistance from the Russell Ranch staff (e.g., in sampling or in managing microplots)? Typically, managing a microplot differently from the main plot will require some discussion, for example, to prevent irrigation water applied to a microplot from affecting neighboring microplots. But, unless specified otherwise, we will assume that your staff will be available to carry out any microplot management not involving farm equipment. 
  13. Will your research meet the definition of "low impact"? "Low-impact” sampling is defined as:
    • soil cores < 40 mm in diameter and < 30 cm deep (up to 50 cores per plot per year)
    • removal of individual leaves of crops or weeds (up to 20 per plot per year)
    • any nondestructive measurements (visual observations, clamp-on chlorophyll meter, IR thermometer, etc.)
    • no application of isotopes, tracers, biocides, or other chemicals
    • staying out of plots when, in the judgement of the Facilities Manager, they are too wet for foot traffic.

    High-impact research activities, such as use of isotopes or removal of large-diameter soil cores, can be authorized by the Russell Ranch Director with sufficient justification. Future researchers at Russell Ranch need to know when and where these activities took place, however. To facilitate record-keeping and minimize negative interactions among projects, high-impact research activities are restricted to microplots allocated to individual researchers. If your experiment is low-impact, ignore the following five questions.

  14. Please describe (and briefly justify, in terms of your research objectives) any sampling involving root harvest or use of a shovel. Please include the maximum dimensions (diameter and depth) and number of resulting holes (per subplot per season). A citation to a published method may be useful in justifying your method, although methods may need to be modified in consideration of future users of the Russell Ranch site. Example: "In order to adequately describe root architecture, we need to dig up one tomato plant per microplot at first bloom, excavating to a depth of 50 cm or less, with hole diameter not to exceed 75 cm. This is a standard method, first described in J. Root Arch. 42:1132, and cited in most recent papers in the field."

  15. If you will be collecting soil cores > 40 mm in diameter, please specify number of cores per subplot (per year), diameter, and depth. Please explain why these large cores are needed.

  16. If you will need to apply any isotopes, biocides, tracers, or other chemicals, please provide details and explain why this is necessary for your research. Note that 15N can only be applied to one phase of each cropping system.

  17. Please explain and justify any other research activities that might have an effect on future research in the same subplots.

  18. Even research activities with major long-term effects may be approved if there is sufficient scientific justification and if the data cannot be obtained in another way. In addition to justification of specific activities in the boxes above, you may provide an overall justification here, explaining the importance of your work to science, to the development of more sustainable agricultural practices, etc. 

By submitting this proposal, you agree to deposit data collected at the Russell Ranch site (or using samples collected at Russell Ranch) in the Russell Ranch database within two years of when the data were obtained as specified in the original LTRAS Charter.