Hoosfield Barley

  • Experiment Code: R/HB/2
  • Experiment Site: Rothamsted
  • Objectives: To test the effects of different inorganic fertilizers (supplying the elements N, P, K Mg and sodium silicate) and farmyard manure (FYM) on the yield of spring barley (Hordeum vulgare)
  • Description: Started in 1852, spring barley has been grown continuously on the site since then. The experiment offers interesting contrasts to Broadbalk; because it is spring sown it has only been necessary to fallow it four times to control weeds and it tests not only nitrogen, minerals and FYM but also sodium silicate.
  • Date Start: 1852
  • Date End: Ongoing

Key Contacts

  • Andrew Gregory

  • Role: Principal Investigator
  • ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7123-0784
  • 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
  • Sarah Perryman

  • Role: Data Manager
  • Organisation: Rothamsted Research
  • Address: West Common, Harpenden, Hertfordshire, AL5 2JQ, United Kingdom

Funding

  • The e-RA database, including the published datasets generated from it, is part of the Rothamsted Long-Term Experiments - National Bioscience Research Infrastructure (RLTE-NBRI) , which also includes the Long-Term Experiments, the Sample Archive and Rothamsted's environmental monitoring activities including the weather stations and its role in the UK Environmental Change Network.
  • The RLTE-NBRI is supported by the Lawes Agricultural Trust and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (Grants BBS/E/C/00005189 (2012-2017); BBS/E/C/000J0300 (2017-2022); BB/CCG2280/1 (2023-2028)).

Experimental Design

Description

  • Four combinations of nutrients were tested in a factorial design (strips 1-4): 0 v P v KMgNa v PKMgNa. This series was crossed by four series testing either no N or three forms of N usually applied at 48kgNha-1 (Series O, no N; Series A, ammonium sulphate; Series AA, sodium nitrate; Series C, rape cake, later castor meal). Four additional plots test: unmanured (plot 61); ashes, 1852-1932 (plot 62); residues of FYM applied 1852-1871 (plot 71); FYM since 1852 (plot 72). The sodium nitrate series was divided in 1862 for a test of with and without sodium silicate, to see what effect this had on straw strength, which was used in large quantities in the local hat factories at that time.

Design

  • Period: 1852 - 1967
  • Number of Blocks: 16
  • Number of Replicates: 1
  • Number of Sub-plots:
  • Number of Harvests per Year: 1

Crops

Crop Years Grown
Spring Barley1852 -

Factors

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

Nitrogen Fertilizer Exposure

Description: nitrogen fertilizer in various forms applied annually

Levels
Level Name Amount Years Frequency Crop Method Chemical Form Notes
Ammonium Sulphate (series A) 48 kgN/ha 1852 - 1966 annually spring barley ammonium sulfate Applied in the spring.
Sodium Nitrate (series Aa) Plots 1aa-4aa 48 kgN/ha 1852 - 1966 annually spring barley sodium sulphate Applied in spring.
Castor Meal (series C) Plots 1c-4c 48 kgN/ha 1852 - 1967 annually spring barley Castor bean meal since 1941, rape cake 1852-1940.
No Nitrogen (series O) Plots 1o-4o 0 kgN/ha 1852 - 1967 spring barley

Phosphate Fertilizer Exposure

Levels
Level Name Amount Years Frequency Crop Method Chemical Form Notes
P 35 kgP/ha 1852 - 1966 annually spring barley triple superphosphate applied in the spring

Potassium Fertilizer Exposure

Description: inorganic potassium fertilizer applied, along with 11kgMg and 16kgNa fertilizer

Levels
Level Name Amount Years Frequency Crop Method Chemical Form Notes
Knamg 90 kgK/ha 1852 - 1966 annually spring barley potassium sulphate Applied in the spring, along with 16kgNa/ha as sodium sulphate and 11kgMg/ha as magnesium sulphate

Farmyard Manure Exposure

Description: Annual applicaton of cattle farmyard manure (FYM)

Levels
Level Name Amount Years Frequency Crop Method Chemical Form Notes
Fym Strip 72 35 t/ha 1852 - 1967 annuallty spring barley Applied before ploughing usually in the autumn
Fym-residue Strip 71 35 t/ha 1852 - 1871 annually spring barley Applied before ploughing usually in the autumn for 20 years only
None Strip 61 0 t/ha 1852 - 1967 spring barley No FYM or inorganic fertilizer applied
Ashes Strip 62 1852 - 1932 spring barley Ashes were added to inorganic P, KNaMg fertilizers to aid spreading. This is a test of the ashes alone. Not applied 1928, 1929.

Silicon Nutrient Exposure

Description: Series AA 4 large plots divided into 8 sub-plots testing silicate (AA and AAS) from 1862

Levels
Level Name Amount Years Frequency Crop Method Chemical Form Notes
Silicate Aas 450 kg/ha 1862 - 1967 annually spring barley sodium silicate Silicate test on Series AA only 450 kg/ha calcium silicate and sodium silicate 1862-1867.
No Silicate Aa 0 kg/ha 1862 - 1967 spring barley Silicate test on Series AA only

Nil

Description: No P, K, Na or Mg applied since 1852. Strip 1

Levels
Level Name Amount Years Frequency Crop Method Chemical Form Notes

Measurements

Variable Unit Collection
Frequency
Material Description Crop
Yield Components t/ha annually SpecifiedCrop Grain and straw yields at field moisture content, approximately 85% dry matter. spring barley
Soil Organic Carbon t/ha occasionally Soil Topsoil (0-23cm) from soil sampled in 1852, 1882, 1913, 1946 and 1965.
Soil Total Nitrogen % occasionally Soil Topsoil (0-23cm) from soil sampled in 1852, 1882, 1913, 1946 and 1965.
Soil Bulk Density g/cm3 occasionally Topsoil (0-23cm) from soil sampled in 1852, 1882, 1913, 1946 and 1965.

Description

  • The 8 large plots of Series AA and C werer each divided into 16 sub-subplots in 1968. A test of rotation or continuous barley was carried out on the sub-plots. Four N rates were tested on the sub-sub plots. The 8 main plots tested 4 combinations of nutrients in a factorial design (strips 1-4): 0 v P v KMgNa v PKMgNa, crossed by 2 series testing two forms of N applied 1852-1967, AA (sodium nitrate) and C (castor bean meal) at 48kgN/ha.

Design

  • Period: 1968 - 1978
  • Number of Blocks: 8
  • Number of Replicates: 1
  • Number of Sub-plots:
  • Number of Harvests per Year: 1

Crops

Crop Years Grown
Spring Barley
Potatoes
Field Beans

Crop Rotations

Rotation Crops
Series C rotation (1968 - 1978) Spring Barley > Field Beans > Potatoes
Series AA rotation (1968 - 1978) Spring Barley > Field Beans > Potatoes

Factors

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

Nitrogen Fertilizer Exposure

Description: Inorganic nitrogen fertilizer in various amounts applied annually to split plots on the rotation plots.

Levels
Level Name Amount Years Frequency Crop Method Chemical Form Notes
N0 0 1968 - 1978 Nil treatment
N1 48 kgN/ha 1968 - 1978 annually ammonium nitrate Applied in the spring
N2 96 kgN/ha 1968 - 1978 annually ammonium nitrate Applied in the spring
N3 144 kgN/ha 1968 - 1978 ammonium nitrate Applied in the spring

Phosphate Fertilizer Exposure

Description: phosphate fertilizer applied annually

Levels
Level Name Amount Years Frequency Crop Method Chemical Form Notes
P 34 kgP/ha 1968 - 1978 triple superphosphate Applied before ploughing usually in the autumn

Potassium Fertilizer Exposure

Description: inorganic potassium fertilizer applied annually, along with 11kgMg and 16kgNa fertilizer

Levels
Level Name Amount Years Frequency Crop Method Chemical Form Notes
Knamg 90 kgK/ha 1968 - 1978 annually potassium sulphate Applied before ploughing, usually in the autumn, with 11kgMg and 16kgNa fertilizer

Measurements

Variable Unit Collection
Frequency
Material Description Crop
Yield Components t/ha annually AllCrops grain and straw yields at 85% dry matter
Crop Nutrient Data % annually SpecifiedCrop Grain and straw %N, P, K, Ca, Mg and Na since 1970. spring barley
Thousand Grain Weight g annually selected plots only from 1974 onwards
Soil Organic Carbon % Soil 1975 selected plots
Soil Total Nitrogen % Soil 1975 selected plots
Soil Bulk Density g/cm3 Soil 1975 selected plots

Description

  • Continuation of main layout of middle period, continuous spring barley only. 16 Main Plots testing various combinations of P, KNaMg, and FYM, on three earlier N treatments; Series O (no fertilizer N); Series A (48 kgN as ammonium sulphate) and Series C (48kg N as castor bean meal) 1852-1967 (see Early period 1).

Design

  • Period: 1968 - 1978
  • Number of Blocks: 16
  • Number of Replicates: 1
  • Number of Sub-plots:
  • Number of Harvests per Year: 1

Crops

Crop Years Grown
Spring Barley

Factors

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

Nitrogen Fertilizer Exposure

Description: Inorganic nitrogen fertilizer in various amounts applied annually to split plots

Levels
Level Name Amount Years Frequency Crop Method Chemical Form Notes
N0 0 kgN/ha - spring barley SInce 1981 the N rates rotate annually, N3>N2>N1>N0
N1 48 kgN/ha 1968 - annually spring barley calcium ammonium nitrate Applied in spring. SInce 1981 the N rates rotate annually, N3>N2>N1>N0
N2 96 kgN/ha 1968 - annually spring barley calcium ammonium nitrate Applied in spring. SInce 1981 the N rates rotate annually, N3>N2>N1>N0
N3 144 kgN/ha 1968 - spring barley calcium ammonium nitrate Applied in spring. SInce 1981 the N rates rotate annually, N3>N2>N1>N0

Phosphate Fertilizer Exposure

Description: inorganic phosphorus fertilizer applied annually since 1852

Levels
Level Name Amount Years Frequency Crop Method Chemical Form Notes
P 35 kgP/ha 1852 - 2002 annually spring barley triple superphosphate Applied in autumn before ploughing.

Potassium Fertilizer Exposure

Description: Inorganic potassium fertilizer applied annually since 1852, with inorganic Mg.

Levels
Level Name Amount Years Frequency Crop Method Chemical Form Notes
Kmg 90 kgK/ha 1852 - annually spring barley potassium sulphate Applied before ploughing in autumn. Applied annually since 1852 with 35kgMg as Kieserite every three years. 16kgNa/ha applied annually as sodium sulphate until 1978.

Farmyard Manure Exposure

Description: farmyard manure in various amounts and periods of application

Levels
Level Name Amount Years Frequency Crop Method Chemical Form Notes
Fym Strip 72 35 t/ha 1852 - annually spring barley Applied before ploughing in autumn. Continuation of FYM treatment from early and middle period.
Fym-residue Strip 71 35 t/ha 1852 - 1871 annually spring barley Continuation of FYM-residue treatment from early and middle period.
None Strip 61 0 t/ha - spring barley No FYM applied. Continuation of Early and Middle Period treatment.
Ash Strip 62 1852 - 1932 spring barley Continuation of treatment from Early and Middle period.

Silicon Nutrient Exposure

Description: Inorganic silicate fertilizer in various amounts and periods of previous application

Levels
Level Name Amount Years Frequency Crop Method Chemical Form Notes
Si, Series Aa 450 kg/ha 1980 - sodium silicate Applied before ploughing in the autumn.
(si), Series Aa 450 kg/ha 1862 - 1979 sodium silicate Applied before ploughing in autumn

Measurements

Variable Unit Collection
Frequency
Material Description Crop
Yield Components t/ha annually SpecifiedCrop Grain and straw yields at 85% dry matter. spring barley
Crop Nutrient Content % annually SpecifiedCrop Grain and straw %N, P, K, Ca, Mg and Na since 1979, %S since 1996, from main plots only. spring barley
Thousand Grain Weight g annually SpecifiedCrop selected plots only from 1974 onwards spring barley
Soil Organic Carbon % infrequently Soil 1982, 1998, 2000 on selected plots only. 0-23cm. Some subsoil data also available in 2000.
Total Soil Nitrogen % infreqently Soil 1982, 1998, 2000 on selected plots only. 0-23cm. Some subsoil data also available in 2000.
Plant Available Phosphorous mg/kg infreqently Soil 1982, 1998, 2000 on selected plots only. 0-23cm. Some subsoil data also available in 2000.
Soil pH infreqently Soil 1982, 1998, 2008 on selected plots only. 0-23cm. Some subsoil data in 1998.
Exchangeable Cations infreqently Soil Exchangeable Ca, Mg, K, and Na, 1982 and 2000, selected plots. 0-23cm soil layer.

Description

  • Continuation of main layout of middle period, continuous spring barley only. Series AA was modified in 1980 to test: 0 v silicate 1862-1979 v silicate since 1980 v silicate since 1862. Two new plots testing P2KMg (plot 63) and FYM (plot 73) were introduced in 2001 and Strip 5 tested various other combinations of N, P, K and Mg.

Design

  • Period: 1979 - 2000

Design

  • Period: 1979 - 2000

Design

  • Period: 2001 - Now

Design

  • Period: 2001 - Now

Design

  • Period: 2001 - Now

Site: Hoosfield - Rothamsted

  • Experiment Site: Rothamsted
  • Description: The Hoosfield Spring Barley experiment was started in 1852 on a 1.7 hectare (4.25 acre) site, to test the effects of organic manure and inorganic fertilizer on the growth of spring barley. The site has probably been occupied since Roman times, and the Rothamsted map of 1623 shows the site under arable cultivation. Before the experiment started the following arable crops were grown: turnips (with FYM and superphosphate) 1847, barley 1848, clover 1849, wheat 1850, barley (with ammonium salts) 1851.
  • Management: The site is managed using conventional tillage and pesticide applications are applied as necessary. The plough layer (0-23 m) is limed when necessary to maintain a minimum soil pH of 7.0 – 7.5. There is no irrigation.
  • Visit Permitted?: Yes
  • Visiting Arrangments: Contact Dr Andrew Gregory
  • Elevation: 130 Metres
  • Geolocation:    51.81206, -0.37608

Soil

  • Type: Luvisol
    Flinty silty clay loam topsoil over clay-with–flints (Avery and Catt, 1995). The soils contain a large number of flints and are slightly calcareous. Below about 2m depth the soil becomes chalk. The experiment is under-drained and the site is free draining.

Soil Properties

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

Datasets available

Title (hover for a longer description) Year of Publication Type Identifier Version

Crop yield data

Hoosfield mean long-term spring barley yields 1852-2015 2017 Summary 10.23637/KeyRefOAHByields
01

Soil data

Hoosfield soil organic carbon content 2012 Summary 10.23637/KeyRefOAHBsoc
01
.

Plans, fertilizer treatments and cropping details for the Hoosfield spring barley experiment

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Plans, treatments and cultivars

  • Hoosfield today Hoosfield spring barley experiment plan and fertilizer treatments, 2001 onwards. Showing current plot layout, treatment codes, and fertilizer and manure treatments since 1968.
  • Hoosfield plans 1968-2000 Hoosfield spring barley experiment plans and fertilizer and manure treatments 1968-2000, including details of potatoes/beans/barley rotation, 1968-1978.
  • Hoosfield plan 1852-1967 Hoosfield spring barley experiment plan showing plot layout, treatment codes and fertilizer and manure treatments 1852-1967.
  • Hoosfield cultivars Details of all the spring barley cultivars grown on Hoosfield since 1852.

information about crop macro nutrient content (% N, P, K, Ca, Mg, Na and S)

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Hoosfield Crop Nutrient Content

The Hoosfield experiment was started in 1852 to investigate the relative importance of the plant nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and sodium (N, P, K, Mg and Na) and silicate (Si), applied as either fertilizer or manures, on the yield of spring barley. From the start of the experiment, samples of barley grain and straw were kept for chemical analysis, although straw samples from the 19th Century are limited.

Early analysis

Lawes and Gilbert (1857) reported on yield and %N for the first six years of the experiment, and Gilbert (1893) on yield and grain composition for the first 30 years.

Hall and Morrison (1906) and Fisher (1929) reported on the effects of silica on yield.

Russell and Watson (1939) comprehensively discuss the effects of the different plant nutrients and FYM on composition and quality of barley grain from 1852-1937. Yates and Watson (1939) also published data on crop N content.

Warren and Johnston (1967) compared N, P, K, Ca, Mg and Na content in grain and straw of the old variety Plumage Archer and the modern variety Maris Badger, in 1964 and 1966. This data is available in the dataset HFBNUTRI. They also report on the effects of sodium silicate on P%.

The whole experiment was fallowed in 1912, 1933, 1943 and 1967.

1968 to present

In 1968 some of the Hoosfield plots (subsequently called the "Main" plots) were divided into four sub-plots, to test four rates of N. Two three-course rotations with barley, potatoes and beans were started on Series AA and C of the experiment; plots were divided into 16 sub-sub-plots to accommodate the different crops and four rates of N. The rotations continued until 1978.

No barley grain or straw was analysed for nutrient content in 1968 or 1969. From 1970 onwards grain samples were analysed for total N every year. On the Main plots straw was also analysed, and in most years, P, K, Ca, Mg, Na were also determined. Sulphur (S) concentrations in grain and straw have been determined since 1996. See Main Plot nutrient data, 1964-2000 and Main Plot nutrient data, 2001 onwards for details of which elements were measured on which plots.

Leigh and Johnston (1983, 1985 and 1986) published a series of papers looking at N, P and K in dry matter and tissue water on the Hoosfield barley crops.

15N-labelled fertilizer was applied to plots of contrasting nutrient status on Hoosfield in 1986 and 1987. The grain and straw total N and 15N content was measured over several years (Glendining et al, 1997, 2001).

Hoosfield crop nutrient data is available from e-RA as the following datasets:

  • HFBNUTRI: Spring barley grain and straw nutrient data, 1964 & 1966, two contrasting varieties, all plots
  • HFNUTRIMAIN: Spring barley grain and straw nutrient data, 1970 onwards.
  • Main Plots 111-724 (old Series O and A) 1970-2000. Plots 631-4 and 731-4 were added 2001 onwards.

    See Main Plot nutrient data, 1964-2000 and Main Plot nutrient data, 2001 onwards for details of which elements were measured on which plots.

Methodology

For analytical techniques used prior to 1968 see Johnston (1969) in Methodology References below.

Nitrogen (N)

1968-1995: nitrogen content was determined by Kjeldahl digest, the digest was then analysed colorimetrically using a Technicon segmented flow analyser. If nitrate-N was expected to be high in the sample, the salicylic acid modification was used (Bremner, 1965).

1996 onwards: nitrogen content is determined by combustion analyser, based on the Dumas method. Originally a Heraeus Combustion analyser, currently a LECO combustion system is used.

Phosphorus (P), Potassium (K), Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg), Sodium (Na) and Sulphur (S)

1968-late 1980s: dry ashing techniques, as described by Piper (1942) were used to produce an acid extract. The extracts were analysed for P colorimetrically on a Technicon Auto Analyser, or later equivalents (Alpkem continuous flow system / Skalar SanPlus segmented flow system), using the modified Murphy & Riley (1962) molybdenum blue method developed from Fogg & Wilkinson (1958). K, Ca, Mg and Na were determined using automated atomic absorption methods. The SP90 atomic absorption flame photometer was used to analyse Ca, Mg and Na; K was analysed by the EEL flame photometer until 1973, K was then analysed with Ca, Mg and Na by the SP90. S was not routinely measured until 1996.

1980s onwards: since the late 1980s the open tube nitric-perchloric digestion (Zarcinas, et al, 1987) has been used to produce an acid extract. P, K, Ca, Mg and Na have been determined by ICP-OES (Inductively-coupled plasma - optical emission Spectrometer) since 1982, and S since 1996.

Blank (control) values: Data for sodium is presented after the analysis blanks (controls) have been subtracted from the raw data. Sodium blank values tend to be relatively large, and can be greater than the raw data. If subtracting the blank resulted in a negative value, this is shown as zero. Thus the sodium data should be treated with some caution. Blank (control) readings for the other nutrients are very small, relative to the sample values, and have not been subtracted.

Methodology References:

  • Bremner, J. M. (1965). Total nitrogen. In Methods of Soil Analysis. Part 2 (ed. C. A. Black), pp. 1149-1178. Madison: American Society of Agronomy.
  • Fogg, D.N. and Wilkinson, N.T. (1958). The colorimetric determination of phosphorus. Analyst, London, 83:406-414.
  • Johnston, A. E. (1969) "The plant nutrients in crops grown on Broadbalk", Rothamsted Experimental Station Report for 1968, Part 2, 50-62.
  • Piper, C.S. (1942) Soil and plant analysis. The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia.
  • Zarcinas, B.A., Cartwright, B., Spouncer, L.R., 1987. Nitric acid digestion and multi-element analysis of plant material by inductively coupled plasma spectrometry. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis 18:131-146.

Key References

2001

  • Glendining, M. J. , Poulton, P. R. , Powlson, D. S. , Macdonald, A. J. and Jenkinson, D. S.(2001) "Availability of the residual nitrogen from a single application of N-15-labelled fertilizer to subsequent crops in a long-term continuous barley experiment", Plant and Soil, 233, 231-239
    DOI: 10.1023/a:1010508914895

1997

  • Glendining, M. J. , Poulton, P. R. , Powlson, D. S. and Jenkinson, D. S.(1997) "Fate of N-15-labelled fertilizer applied to spring barley grown on soils of contrasting nutrient status", Plant and Soil, 195, 83-98
    DOI: 10.1023/a:1004295531657

1990

  • Johnston, A. E. and Goulding, K. W. T.(1990) "The use of plant and soil analyses to predict the potassium supplying capacity of soil", Development of K-fertilizer Recommendations. International Potash Institute, Berne, 177-204

1986

  • Leigh, R. A. and Johnston, A. E.(1986) "An investigation of the usefulness of phosphorus concentrations in tissue water as indicators of the phosphorus status of field-grown spring barley", Journal of Agricultural Science, 107, 329-333

1985

  • Leigh, R. A. and Johnston, A. E.(1985) "Nitrogen concentrations in field-grown spring barley: an examination of the usefulness of expressing concentrations on the basis of tissue water", Journal of Agricultural Science, 105, 397-406

1983

  • Leigh, R. A. and Johnston, A. E.(1983) "Concentrations of potassium in the dry matter and tissue water of field grown spring barley and their relationships to grain yield", Journal of Agricultural Science, 101, 675-685
  • Leigh, R. A. and Johnston, A. E.(1983) "The effects of fertilizers and drought on the concentrations of potassium in the dry matter and tissue water of field-grown spring barley", Journal of Agricultural Science, 101, 741-748

1967

1939

  • Russell, E. J. and Watson, D. J.(1939) "The Rothamsted field experiments on barley, Part III. The composition and quality of the barley grain. ", Empire Journal of Experimental Agriculture, 7, 193-220
  • Yates, F. and Watson, D. J.(1939) "Factors influencing the percentage of nitrogen in the barley grain of Hoosfield", Journal of Agricultural Science, 29, 452-458

1929

  • Fisher, R. A.(1929) "A preliminary note on the effect of sodium silicate in increasing the yield of barley", Journal of Agricultural Science, 19, 132-139

1906

  • Hall, A. D. and Morison, C. G. T.(1906) "On the function of silica in the nutrition of cereals. Part, 1.", Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 77, 455-477

1893

  • Gilbert, J. H.(1893) "Results of Experiments at Rothamsted, on the growth of barley, for more than thirty years in succession on the same land; being a lecture delivered June 29, 1886, at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester. ", Agricultural Students Gazette, 3, 1-29
    http://www.archive.org/details/cu31924000346381

1857

  • Lawes, J. B. and Gilbert, J. H.(1857) "Agricultural Chemistry - On the growth of barley by different manures continuously on the same land; and on the position of the crop in rotation", Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, 18, 454-531 (Series 1/11)

Information about soil properties, and details of which soil chemical properties have been measured

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Hoosfield Continuous Spring Barley Experiment soil chemical and physical properties

The Continuous Spring Barley experiment was started in 1852 on a 1.7 hectare (4.25 acre) site on Hoosfield, to test the effects of organic manure and inorganic fertilizer on the growth of spring barley. The site has probably been occupied since Roman times, and the Rothamsted map of 1623 shows the site under arable cultivation. Arable crops grown 1847-1851, before the experiment started were: turnips (with FYM and superphosphate) 1847; barley 1848; clover 1849; wheat 1850; barley (with ammonium salts) 1851.

Soil details

  • FAO Classification: Chromic Luvisol (or Alisol)
  • U.S. Soil Taxonomy: Aquic (or Typic) Paleudalf
  • Soil Survey of England & Wales Group: Stagnogleyic paleo-argillic brown earth (Avery, 1980)
  • Soil Survey of England & Wales Series: Predominately Batcombe Series (Avery and Catt, 1995).

For more details of the Batcombe and other soil series, see Cranfield University 2018 Soils Guide.

Soil texture class: Flinty silty clay loam topsoil over clay-with-flints (Avery and Catt, 1995). The soils contain a large number of flints and are slightly calcareous. Below about 2m depth the soil becomes chalk. The experiment is under-drained and the site is free draining.

Soil texture, 0-23cm (from Blake et al, 2003, plots 42 and 72)

  • Sand: 28 %
  • Silt: 52 %
  • Clay (<2 µm): 20 %

From Avery and Catt (1995): Typical Batcombe series topsoil contains 18-27% clay, with clay content increasing with depth.

Soil pH: Since the 1950s, chalk has been applied when and where necessary to maintain a soil pH of 7.0 - 7.5. Liming stopped in 1968-1974 but started again in 1975. Since 2007 lime has been applied to most plots except the control strips and the no P strip every 5 or 6 years. Like several other old arable fields at Rothamsted, Hoosfield was given large dressings of chalk in the early part of the 19th century, when the practice was to dig out the underlying chalk and spread it on the arable land. Detailed surveys of soil pH and CaCO3 around 1954 suggested that these early large dressings were not applied uniformly, and the amount applied lessened with increasing distance from one side or corner of the field. This meant that parts of the field became acidic earlier than others. (Warren and Johnston, 1967; Jenkinson and Johnston, 1977).

Soil movement: Warren and Johnston (1967) and also Poulton (1996) discuss the early movement of soil across plot boundaries due to cultivation both along and across the plots. As a result of soil transects carried out in the 1950s, cultivations were restricted, and wide discard areas between plots introduced in the 1960s.

Plot sizes: Plots lengths: All 12.19m, except plots in strips 6 and 7, which are 9.14m. Plot widths: All 10.52m. Currently harvested area is plot length x 2.1m width. Plot harvested area data is included with plot yield data.

Soil chemical properties

Soil chemical properties have been measured at regular intervals on Hoosfield since 1852, in topsoils (0-23cm) and subsoils. See soil measurements 1852-2013 for details of what data is available. Not all plots or soil depths have been measured every year. The following soil properties have been measured:

  • %N : total soil Nitrogen %
  • %SOC : soil organic Carbon %
  • Olsen P : plant-available phoshorus, by extraction with a solution of 0.5M NaHCO3, buffered at pH 8.5
  • pH : soil pH in water (1:2.5 soil : solution)
  • Extractable cations : extractable Ca, K, Mg and Na
  • % CaCO3 : by manometry
  • soil weights : see below for more details

Soil inorganic N measurements: See Bakar et al (1994) below for estimates of nitrate leaching using Br and N-15 tracers; see also Powlson et al (1989) below for measurements of nitrate leaching from FYM and inorganic N fertilizer plots.

Denitrification measurements: See Webster and Goulding (1989) below for measurements of denitrification in autumn 1987 from Hoosfield, comparing high and low SOC plots. See also Bakar et al, (1994) below for estimates of denitrication using Br and N-15 tracers.

15N-labelled fertilizer measurements: See Glendining et al (1997; 2001) for details of the fate of 15N-labelled fertilizer applied to the Hoosfield Spring Barley experiment in 1986 and 1987.

Soil properties - Main plots, 0-23cm 2008:

Treatment (plot number)
pH in water
Olsen P (mg/kg)a
Exchangeable K (mg/kg) b
Organic C (%) c
Total soil N (%)
PK (42)
FYM (72)
Unfertilized (62)
FYM-residue (71)
7.2
7.2
8.0
7.3
104
98
4
7
321
663
83
114
0.94
3.53
0.82
1.36
0.099
0.328
0.097
0.134

aOlsen P - P soluble in 0.5 M NaHCO3 bExchangeable K extracted in ammonium acetate cOrganic C, determined by dichromate oxidation (Tinsley, 1950).

Soil organic carbon (SOC)

Soil organic carbon has been measured at regular intervals on Hoosfield since 1852, in topsoils (0-23cm) and subsoils. See soil measurements 1852-2013 for details of what data is available. Not all plots or soil depths have been measured every year. See long-term SOC for selected treatments under 'Datasets'.

Herbst et al (2018) (see Key References, below) measured soil carbon fractions from selected fresh and archived soil samples from 1882-2012. They measured TOC (total organic carbon), and different POM (particulate organic matter) fractions, from plot 11 (no fertilizer or manure since 1852), plot 7.1 (FYM 1852-1871), plot 7.2 (FYM since 1852) and plot 7.3 (FYM since 2001), along with fresh soils from the Highfield and Fosters ley-arable experiments.

Soil weight Mkg/ha, Main Plots

The following standard soil weights should be used for Hoosfield Continuous Spring Barley Main Plots. All weights are in 106 kg/ha of oven-dry fine soil. To convert to g/cm3 divide by depth in cm (eg 23) and multiply by 10. Data prepared by A J Macdonald and P R Poulton, 2012, derived from Jenkinson and Johnston (1977). Note that plot 11 (unfertilized) on the north-east part of the experimental site has a greater soil weight than the other unfertilized plots (61 and 62) and those receiving inorganic fertilizer (eg plot 42). The unfertilized plot used in the Hoosfield SOC Open Access figure is plot 11.

Hoosfield continuous spring barley soil weights 106 kg/ha, 0-23cm, Main plots

Year
Unfertilized since 1852 (Plot 11)
FYM since 1852 (Plot 72)
All other Main Plots a
1852
1882
1913
1946
1965
1975
1982
1998
2.91
2.91
2.91
2.91
2.91
2.91
2.91
2.91
2.62
2.34
2.43
2.35
2.31
2.29
2.29
2.29
2.62
2.62
2.62
2.62
2.62
2.62
2.62
2.62

a All other Main Plots, including FYM 1852-1871 (plot 71), NPK since 1852 (plot 42) and plots 61 and 62.

Further information and acknowledgements

With thanks to Andy Macdonald and Paul Poulton for help with compiling the information and text.

Key References

2021

  • Suravi, K. N. , Attenborough, K. , Taherzadeh, S. , Macdonald, A. J. , Powlson, D. S. , Ashton, R. W. and Whalley, W. R.(2021) "The effect of organic carbon content on soil compression characteristics", Soil and Tillage research, 209, 104975
    DOI: 10.1016/j.still.2021.104975

2018

  • Herbst, M. , Welp, G. , Macdonald, A. , Jate, M. , Hdicke, A. , Scherer, H. , Gaiser, T. , Herrmann, F. , Amelung, W. and Vanderborght, J.(2018) "Correspondence of measured soil carbon fractions and RothC pools for equilibrium and non-equilibrium states", Geoderma, 314, 37-46
    DOI: 10.1016/j.geoderma.2017.10.047

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 and Soil, 254, 245-261
    DOI: 10.1023/A:1025544817872

2001

  • Glendining, M. J. , Poulton, P. R. , Powlson, D. S. , Macdonald, A. J. and Jenkinson, D. S.(2001) "Availability of the residual nitrogen from a single application of N-15-labelled fertilizer to subsequent crops in a long-term continuous barley experiment", Plant and Soil, 233, 231-239
    DOI: 10.1023/a:1010508914895

1997

  • Glendining, M. J. , Poulton, P. R. , Powlson, D. S. and Jenkinson, D. S.(1997) "Fate of N-15-labelled fertilizer applied to spring barley grown on soils of contrasting nutrient status", Plant and Soil, 195, 83-98
    DOI: 10.1023/a:1004295531657

1996

  • Poulton, P. R.(1996) "Hoosfield Continuous Barley. ", Global Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems, Report No. 7, GCTE Task 3.3.1, Soil Organic Matter Network (SOMNET): 1996 Model and Experimental Metadata (Smith P. , Smith J.U. and Powlson D.S. (eds) - GCTE Focus 3 Office, Wallingford, UK), 86-88

1995

1994

  • Bakar, R. A. , Goulding, K. W. T. , Webster, C. P. , Poulton, P. R. and Powlson, D. S.(1994) "Estimating Nitrate Leaching and Denitrification by Simultaneous Use of Br and N-15 Tracers", Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 66, 509-519
    DOI: 10.1002/jsfa.2740660414

1989

  • Webster, C. P. and Goulding, K. W. T.(1989) "Influence of soil carbon content on denitrification from fallow land during autumn", Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 49, 131-142
    DOI: 10.1002/jsfa.2740490202
  • Powlson, D. S. , Poulton, P. R. , Addiscott, T. M. and Mccann, D. S.(1989) "Leaching of nitrate from soil receiving organic or inorganic fertilizers continuously for 135 years", In: Nitrogen in organic wastes applied to soils, ed. J.A.A. Hansen and, K. Henriksen, Academic Press, 334-345

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

  • Jenkinson, D. S. and Johnston, A. E.(1977) "Soil organic matter in the Hoosfield continuous barley experiment", Rothamsted Experimental Station Report for 1976 , Part 2 , 87-101
    Get from eRAdoc: ResReport1976p2-89-103

1967

Key References

2015

  • Rothamsted_Research(2015) "Hoosfield spring barley experiment plans and fertilizer treatments 1968-2000", Electronic Rothamsted Archive, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, Herts, AL5 2JQ, UK
    DOI: 10.23637/rhb2-plans1968-2000-01

2012

  • Rothamsted_Research(2012) "Hoosfield spring barley experiment plan and fertilizer treatments 1852-1967", Electronic Rothamsted Archive, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, Herts, AL5 2JQ, UK
    DOI: 10.23637/rhb2-plan1852-1967-01

2009

  • Johnston, A. E. , Poulton, P. R. and Coleman, K.(2009) "Soil organic matter: its importance in sustainable agriculture and carbon dioxide fluxes", Advances in Agronomy, 101, 1-57
    DOI: 10.1016/s0065-2113(08)00801-8
  • Rothamsted_Research(2009) "Hoosfield spring barley experiment plan and fertilizer treatments 2001 onwards", Electronic Rothamsted Archive, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, Herts, AL5 2JQ, UK
    DOI: 10.23637/rhb2-plan2001-01

2001

  • Glendining, M. J. , Poulton, P. R. , Powlson, D. S. , Macdonald, A. J. and Jenkinson, D. S.(2001) "Availability of the residual nitrogen from a single application of N-15-labelled fertilizer to subsequent crops in a long-term continuous barley experiment", Plant and Soil, 233, 231-239
    DOI: 10.1023/a:1010508914895

1997

  • Glendining, M. J. , Poulton, P. R. , Powlson, D. S. and Jenkinson, D. S.(1997) "Fate of N-15-labelled fertilizer applied to spring barley grown on soils of contrasting nutrient status", Plant and Soil, 195, 83-98
    DOI: 10.1023/a:1004295531657

1996

  • Poulton, P. R.(1996) "Hoosfield Continuous Barley. ", Global Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems, Report No. 7, GCTE Task 3.3.1, Soil Organic Matter Network (SOMNET): 1996 Model and Experimental Metadata (Smith P. , Smith J.U. and Powlson D.S. (eds) - GCTE Focus 3 Office, Wallingford, UK), 86-88

1977

  • Jenkinson, D. S. and Johnston, A. E.(1977) "Soil organic matter in the Hoosfield continuous barley experiment", Rothamsted Experimental Station Report for 1976 , Part 2 , 87-101
    Get from eRAdoc: ResReport1976p2-89-103

1967

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