Exhaustion Land

  • Experiment Code: R/EX/4
  • Experiment Site: Rothamsted
  • Objectives: To test the residual effects of mineral fertilizer and manures applied 1876-1901 and of additional phosphate applied since 1986, on the yield of spring barley (up to 1991) and winter wheat. A test of potassium was introduced in 2007. Soils now have a range of plant available P and K.
  • Description: The Exhaustion Land experiment has had several distinct phases since it started in 1856. Today, it is used to study the residual effects of fertilizers and manures applied from 1856-1901 and additional phosphate applied since 1986, on the yield of cereals. A test of potassium was introduced in 2007. Treatments have been managed so that the soils now have a wide range of plant available P and K.
  • Date Start: 1856
  • Date End: Ongoing

Key Contacts

  • Andy Macdonald

  • Role: Principal Investigator
  • Organisation: Rothamsted Research
  • Address: West Common, Harpenden, Hertfordshire, AL5 2JQ, United Kingdom
  • Margaret Glendining

  • Role: Data Manager
  • ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6466-4629
  • Organisation: Rothamsted Research
  • Address: West Common, Harpenden, Hertfordshire, AL5 2JQ, United Kingdom

Funding

Experimental Design

Description

  • Four plots were established on the Exhaustion Land site in 1856, this was known as 'Smith's Wheat' experiment. Winter wheat was grown each year. In 1876 the four plots were divided and two more plots were added, from a strip of unmanured and unfertilized wheat on the north side of the experiment. This was known as the 'Potato experiment', and potatoes were grown every year from 1876-1901. From 1856 to 1901, the plots received annual applications of N, P, K or FYM. There were 10 plots from 1876 to 1901, each 0.067 ha (1/6th of an acre).

Design

  • Period: 1856 - 1901

Crops

Crop Years Grown
Wheat1856 - 1875
Potatoes1876 - 1901

Factors

Factors are the interventions or treatments which vary across the experiment.

Phosphate Fertilizer Exposure

Application: Whole Plot

Levels
Level Name Amount Years Frequency Crop Method Chemical Form Notes
Superphosphate 34 kgP/ha 1876 - 1896
Basic Slag 34 kgP/ha 1897 - 1901 potatoes

Potassium Fertilizer Exposure

Application: Whole Plot

Levels
Level Name Amount Years Frequency Crop Method Chemical Form Notes
Default Title 91 kgK/ha 1859 - 1874 wheat potassium sulphate
Default Title 137 kgK/ha 1876 - 1901 potatoes potassium sulphate

Farmyard Manure Exposure

Application: Whole Plot

Levels
Level Name Amount Years Frequency Crop Method Chemical Form Notes
Farmyard Manure 35 t/ha 1876 - 1901 potatoes

Nitrogen Fertilizer Exposure

Application: Whole Plot

Levels
Level Name Amount Years Frequency Crop Method Chemical Form Notes
Default Title 96 kgN/ha 1856 - 1901 As ammonium salts ammonium sulphate & ammonium chloride
Default Title 96 kgN/ha 1856 - 1901 sodium nitrate

Sodium Nutrient Exposure

Application: Whole Plot

Levels
Level Name Amount Years Frequency Crop Method Chemical Form Notes
Default Title 16 kgNa/ha 1856 - 1901

Magnesium Nutrient Exposure

Application: Whole Plot

Levels
Level Name Amount Years Frequency Crop Method Chemical Form Notes
Default Title 11 kgMg/ha 1856 - 1901

Factor Combinations

Factor Combinations are the combination of factors applied to different plots on the experiment.

Factor Combination Time Coverage Notes
PKNaMg 1856 - 1901
P 1876 - 1901 To half of previous wheat plot receiving PKNaMg plot
NPKNaMg 1856 - 1901
N 1856 - 1901
FYM (P) 1876 - 1882 Applied to previous wheat nil plot
FYM (N*P) 1876 - 1882 Applied to previous wheat nil plot
FYM 1883 - 1901
Nil 1856 - 1901 Control plots receiving no fertilizer inputs

Description

  • Between 1902 and 1939 no fertilizers or manures were applied and, with a few exceptions, cereals (usually spring barley) were grown. The site was fallow in 1920. Yields were recorded in some of the earlier years, and residual effects of the previous treatments were very small in the absence of fresh nitrogen fertilizer. Yields were not recorded from 1923-1939, except in 1935.

Design

  • Period: 1902 - 1939
  • Number of Blocks: 10

Description

  • Between 1940 and 1985, spring barley was grown and N fertilizer applied to all plots every year. Initially a single rate was applied, 63-88 kg N/ha. In 1976 the 10 main plots were each divided to test four rates of N (0, 48, 96 and 144 kg N/ha), which were rotated each year. No other fertilizer or manure was applied 1902-1985. No crop was grown in 1967 or 1975. Grain and straw yields were recorded from 1949 onwards. Nitrogen not only increased yields, but allowed the crop to take advantage of P and K residues remaining in the soil from Phase I of the experiment. The effects of these were initially large but declined as amounts of phosphate in the soil declined.

Design

  • Period: 1940 - 1985
  • Number of Blocks: 10
  • Number of Sub-plots:
  • Number of Harvests per Year: 1

Crops

Crop Years Grown
Barley1940 - 1985

Factors

Factors are the interventions or treatments which vary across the experiment.

Nitrogen Fertilizer Exposure

Description: Single rate applied to all plots until 1976 when 4 different N rates were applied but rotate in the sequence N0>N3>N2>N1, eg N0 1976, N3 1977, N2 1978, N1 1979, N0 1980. the cumulative N rate for each plot is therefore equal.

Levels
Level Name Amount Years Frequency Crop Method Chemical Form Notes
Default Title 75 kgN/ha 1940 - 1948 ammonium sulfate
Default Title 63 kgN/ha 1949 - 1963 ammonium sulfate
Default Title 88 kgN/ha 1964 - 1974 calcium ammonium nitrate
N0 0 1976 - 1985
N1 48 kgN/ha 1976 - 1985 calcium ammonium nitrate
N2 96 kgN/ha 1976 - 1985 calcium ammonium nitrate
N3 144 kgN/ha 1976 - 1985 calcium ammonium nitrate

Description

  • In 1986, after a long period when the P residues in particular were being “exhausted”, it was decided to see how quickly this decline in soil fertility could be reversed. Annual, cumulative dressings of 0 v 44 v 87 v 131 kg P ha-1, as triple superphosphate, were tested on five of the original plots (each divided into four sub-plots). Spring barley was grown. This was known as the "P Test". Basal N and K were applied such that these nutrients did not limit yield. Responses to fresh P were rapid. Applications of P stopped after seven years. No P was applied between 1993 and 1999, but since 2000, maintenance dressings, equivalent to offtakes by the crop, have been applied (not to the no-fresh-P sub-plots). Wheat has been grown since 1992. Typically, it showed the same response to available-P as spring barley i.e. above a critical level, on this soil, of about 12 mg kg-1 there is no further increase in yield.

Design

  • Period: 1986 - 2006

Crops

Crop Years Grown
Barley1986 - 1991
Wheat1992 - 2006

Factors

Factors are the interventions or treatments which vary across the experiment.

Phosphate Fertilizer Exposure

Description: Applied to "P" test sub-plots. These plots received basal manuring rates of 144 kg N/ha and 83 kg K/ha

Application: Sub Plot

Levels
Level Name Amount Years Frequency Crop Method Chemical Form Notes
P0 0 -
P1 44 kgP/ha 1986 - 1991 annually in autumn barley calcium bis(dihydrogenphosphate)
P2 87 kgP/ha 1986 - 1991 annually in autumn barley calcium bis(dihydrogenphosphate)
P3 131 kgP/ha 1986 - 1991 annually in autumn barley calcium bis(dihydrogenphosphate)

Nitrogen Fertilizer Exposure

Description: Applied to "N" Tests sub plots. N rates rotate each year N0>N3>N2>N1, eg N0 1986, N3 1987, N2 1988, N1 1989, N0 1990

Application: Sub Plot

Levels
Level Name Amount Years Frequency Crop Method Chemical Form Notes
N0 0 - wheat
N1 48 kgN/ha 1986 - 1991 barley calcium ammonium nitrate
N2 96 kgN/ha 1986 - 1991 calcium ammonium nitrate
N3 144 kgN/ha 1986 - 1991 barley calcium ammonium nitrate

Description

  • On the other half of the experiment, the effects of K residues (in the presence of basal P and N) on yield are investigated (the "K Test" plots). Since 2007, annual cumulative applications of 0, 62.2 and 124.5 kg K ha-1 as muriate of potash have been applied (K0, K1 and K2). Basal N and P has been applied so that yields are not limited. From autumn 2015 P was withheld from plots 013, 033, 053, 073 and 093 ("P Test" plots) in addition to those which no longer receive P (plots 014, 034, 054, 074 and 094) because the plant available P was increasing on these plots. See Exhaustion Land today for more details.

Design

  • Period: 2007 - Now

Site: Hoosfield - Rothamsted

  • Experiment Site: Rothamsted
  • Description: From 1852-1855, this site was the 'Lois Weedon' plots, an experiment that tested different methods of husbandry, with no fertilizer or manure. Winter wheat was grown. See Johnston & Poulton (1977) for more details.
  • Visit Permitted?: Yes
  • Visiting Arrangments: By arrangement with Dr Any Macdonald
  • Elevation: 128 Metres
  • Geolocation:    51.812883, -0.375931

Soil

  • Type: Luvisol
    Chromic Luvisol. Silty clay loam topsoil over clay-with–flints (Avery & Catt, 1995). The soil contains a large number of flints and some rounded pebbles from the material derived from the Reading Beds. The soil is naturally acid and free draining. Below about 2m depth the soil becomes chalk. Soil pH: Since the 1950s, chalk (CaCO3) has been applied as necessary to maintain a minimum soil pH of 7.0. Like several other old arable fields at Rothamsted, Hoosfield was given large dressings of chalk in the early 19th century, when the practice was to dig out the underlying chalk and spread it on the arable land. Chalk was applied at up to 250 t/ha, and this increased topsoil pH in water (23cm) to between 7.0 and 8.0 (from Poulton et al, 2013).

Soil Properties

Variable Value Reference Year Is Estimated Is Baseline
Sand content 28% (Percent) NO NO
Clay content 52% (Percent) NO NO
Clay content 20% (Percent) NO NO

Datasets available

Crop yield data

Exhaustion Land yields (spring barley and winter wheat) and assorted crop & soil phosphate (P) data, 1974-2008
Crop yield data This dataset contains data from the long-term Exhaustion Land experiment at Rothamsted Research, specifically grain and straw yields (spring barley to 1991, thereafter winter wheat), % phosphorous (P) and P uptake (1976-2008), soil Olsen P (plant available P) and Total P (1974-2008) from the long-term Exhaustion Land experiment (established 1856) at Rothamsted Research.
ExLand2016
Additional data is available through e-RAdata. Please register for access.

Key References

2019

  • Johnston, A. E. and Poulton, P. R.(2019) "Phosphorus in Agriculture: A Review of Results from 175 Years of Research at Rothamsted, UK", Journal of Environmental Quality, 48, 1133-1144
    DOI: 10.2134/jeq2019.02.0078

2016

  • Johnston, A. E. , Poulton, P. R. , White, R. P. and Macdonald, A. J.(2016) "Determining the longer term decline in plant-available soil phosphorus from short-term measured values", Soil Use and Management, 32, 151-161
    DOI: 10.1111/sum.12253

2013

  • Poulton, P. R. , Johnston, A. E. and White, R. P.(2013) "Plant-available soil phosphorus. Part I: the response of winter wheat and spring barley to Olsen P on a silty clay loam", Soil Use and Management, 29, 4-11
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-2743.2012.00450.x

2003

  • Blake, L. , Johnston, A. E. , Poulton, P. R. and Goulding, K. W. T.(2003) "Changes in soil phosphorus fractions following positive and negative phosphorus balances for long periods.", Plant & Soil, 254, 245-261
    DOI: 10.1023/A:1025544817872

1995

1991

  • Rothamsted(1991) "Guide to the Classical Field Experiments", Rothamsted Experimental Station, Lawes Agricultural Trust, Harpenden UK
    DOI: 10.23637/ERADOC-1-189

1980

  • Avery, B. W.(1980) "Soil classification for England and Wales (higher categories). ", Technical Monograph 14, Soil Survey of England and Wales, Harpenden UK

1977

  • Johnston, A. E. and Poulton, P. R.(1977) "Yields on the Exhaustion Land and changes in NPK content of the soils due to cropping and manuring, 1852-1975", Rothamsted Experimental Station Annual Report for 1976, Part 2
    Get from eRAdoc: ResReport1976p2-55-87

For further information and assistance, please contact the e-RA curators, Sarah Perryman and Margaret Glendining using the e-RA email address: era@rothamsted.ac.uk