Michigan ITEX OTC Field

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    Shaun Davis


    Greetings to all of my APPLES friends! I hope your holiday season has been fun and relaxing.

    Below you’ll see some photos of the experimental field that my students and I set up this fall.
    We have 10 OTCs (8 round & 2 from the workshop) and 8 ambient areas (protected with hardware cloth) for our plant phenology investigation. Each group of four students will be responsible for monitoring and gathering data from a pair of planting areas (an OTC and an ambient).
    Each plant is marked using an aluminum disc and has a specific number. Every color denotes a specific plant species.
    When I returned from the APPLES Workshop, I planted seeds from several native species, hoping that they would be big enough when it was time to plant. Alas, only one was ready (the others needed to be cold stratified), so this year we went with bulbs. Currently in the ground are crocus, daffodils, tulips, hyacinth, and narcissus. I’ll begin growing those native plants much earlier this summer! 🙂
    The last few photos are of the temperature probes and probe ‘houses’ we’re using to monitor temperature 24/7. I experimented with several different ways to use the probes to provide accurate and consistent temperature readings, and this one turned out to work well. It’s just a piece of pvc tubing with 5/8 inch holes drilled all around it. I hang the probes using small zip ties and keep the whole thing stable with long landscape staples.
    My students and I are looking forward to spring when we can really get this thing going!


    Charlene Tuttle

    Hi Shaun,


    Great idea to color code for plant species. Looks like bingo chips? perfect! Good luck!


    Susan Smith

    What exactly did you use for the round OTCs? I like this set up! Unfortunately I cannot get those where I am, not mail myself this plastic without paying through the nose for it.



    St. Paul Island, AK

    Kristin Joivell

    Hi Shaun!  I love the round wire fences that you are using.  I assume they are for the ambient plots.  What exactly is that material called and where can I get it?  I’ve been wondering what I could do to enclose my ambient plot without affecting the results of the experiment and the round wire fencing seems to be a good solution.  Also, what are the hula hoops for?  Do they mark something special or are they just a boundary for your planted seeds?  I was also thinking of using a hula hoop for both plots to give the students a frame of reference as to where the seeds actually are planted.

    Cinda Murray

    Hi Shaun,

    It looks like you are off to a great start!  I am so envious of the HOBOs; hoping to order them in the Spring when our permanent plots are established.  For now, we are monitoring using the infrared thermometer.


    Shaun Davis

    Thanks Charlene. The professor I work with at MSU had lots of these aluminum discs from an earlier experiment. All I had to do was prime and paint them. It was also convenient that each disc had a small hole in it, which was perfect for using a landscape staple to anchor it next to each plant.

    Shaun Davis

    Hi Susan. I used, “Sun-Lite HP (0.040 inch thick), a fiberglass material especially designed for solar applications. This material is made by: Solar Components
    Corporation, 121 Valley St., Manchester, New Hampshire, 03103 USA (telephone: 603-668-8186).” That quote is from the ITEX Manual.

    Shaun Davis

    Hi Kristin,

    I used ‘hardware cloth’ for the ambient plots. It comes in various gauges and you can get it at pretty much any hardware store. I used it primarily to keep the rabbits out.
    Yes, the hoops served as a guide for planting. The kids just had to make sure that all the plants were inside the hoop.
    I didn’t want the plants to be located too close to the sides of OTCs, so all of the hoops are the same size as the top opening of the cone OTCs.

    Shaun Davis

    Hi Cinda,

    Yes, it’s nice to have the HOBOs. One of the reasons I chose them was because their batteries typically last about a year and they can be replaced. These same probes can be used underwater or have other types of attachments used with them, so they’re very versatile. I’m going to purchase some cables this spring that will allow me to measure soil temperature.

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