OARDC Outlying Agricultural Research Stations
NAEWS Agricultural Research Station


The North Appalachian Experimental Watershed was established in 1935 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to search for better farming methods on sloping land and conduct unique hydrology and water quality studies. In 1973, OARDC scientists joined in a cooperative effort with USDA researchers to carry out intensive studies on soil-water relationships on the various watersheds located in the area.

Research Focus

The hills and valleys of Coshocton County are representative of the landscape in eastern Ohio as well as neighboring states, typifying agricultural land in the unglaciated Allegheny Plateau region. Because of those characteristics, it is an excellent location to study soil erosion, surface water runoff, land use and crops both on individual farm fields and on entire watersheds. The unique lysimeters (65-ton blocks of undisturbed soil) present at this station aid scientists in measuring movement of water and potential contaminants through the soil.

Beef Cattle Production

Animal scientists are looking into the effects of organic beef production practices on animal performance and water quality. The study involves 32 cows and their calves grazing on four different watersheds, which allows researchers to quantify water, soil, and nutrient losses from these pastures.

Another study involves the evaluation of grass-fed beef production systems, utilizing 70 cows and 20 replacement heifers. It compares grass-fed beef finishing systems with a conventional grain-based system.

Cropping Systems and Sustainability

The north Appalachian Experimental Watershed is one of the sites chosen for a comprehensive, USDA-supported $20 million study aimed at keeping Midwest corn-based cropping systems resilient in the face of future climate uncertainties. Activities include collecting data on carbon, nitrogen, and water movement, as well as evaluating the impact of cover crops as in corn rotations with regard to nitrogen fertilization requirements.

Scientists are also studying the use of reclaimed wastewater for irrigation on farm fields. Because winter conditions are a major limitation to irrigation in Ohio, researchers are trying to determine whether polluted runoff could enter Ohio surface waters. The Coshocton Station has fully instrumented plots that make it possible to measure potential runoff for this type of study.

NAEW is one of four OARDC sites that established no-till corn production in the early 1960’s. These are the longest continuous no-till corn plots in the world. Scientists from around the globe have conducted joint projects on these soils to study pesticide movement and degradation, soil physical properties, earthworms and hydrology.

Forestry and Soils

The Coshocton Station contains stands of Canaan fir trees, serving as the major seed source of this species for the nation’s Christmas tree industry. Native stands of Canaan fir in West Virginia have been decimated by an insect, which makes the NAEW seed orchards essential.

A research project was recently established at NAEW to study the effects of selective timber harvest on soil physical properties, water movement, runoff and erosion on a 40-acre instrumented watershed.

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8 miles north of Coshocton on SR 621 (Coshocton County, Ohio) Larger Map/Directions


28850 State Route 621
Fresno, OH 43824
Phone: 740-545-6349


1,047 acres
Ken Scaife, Assistant to the Director, Field Operations

Cathy Chenevey, Office Associate
Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center
228 Research Services Building
1680 Madison Avenue
Wooster OH 44691
Phone: 330-263-3771 FAX: 330-263-3710