e-RA: the electronic Rothamsted Archive

Rothamsted long-term liming experiment

Two long-term liming experiments were started in 1962 at Rothamsted (Sawyers field) and Woburn (Stackyard) to study the interaction between soil pH, P and K on arable crop yields. The fields differ in soil type. Rothamsted is a flinty silty clay loam (Batcombe-Carstens Series) and Woburn is a sandy loam (Cottenham Series). Different amounts of lime (including zero) were applied from 1962 onwards to fields that had been acid for many years before the experiments began (Bolton, 1971). The original experimental design was four lime treatments with and without P and K (4 x 2 x 2 factorial with two replicates) within randomised blocks and with plot sizes of 6 m x 8 m. The experiments were modified in 1981 with 4 lime treatments and 4 P levels, with magnesium, manganese and then sulphur treatments applied to sub-plots.

Yields of various arable crops were recorded from 1962-1996 and papers published (Bolton, 1971, 1977 a,b; McEwen et al, 1990; Holland et al, 2019). Soil samples have been used for experiments determining the effects of pH on the bioavailability of heavy metals (Sanders et al, 1986). Lime was applied in one year (1962) and then in small doses between 1982-1987. The plots were also used as part of a dataset to produce the Rothamsted Lime Model (RothLime; Goulding et al, 1989) which was used from 1982 onwards to apply small amounts of lime to keep the plots at the target pHs (1:2.5 soil:water) of 4.5, 5.5, 6.5 and 7.5. Since 1997 the Rothamsted plots have been in grass; the experiment was re-started in 2018. The Woburn experiment was discontinued in 1997.

See Table S1 (pdf) for details of the type and number of treatments levels applied to whole and sub-plots each year, 1962-1996, for Rothamsted and Woburn.

See data availability (pdf) for details of crop yield and pH data available, 1962-1996.

See Standardised plans, 1962-1996 (pdf)for standard plans showing layout and treatment details:

See Lime and fertilizer details, 1962-1996 (pdf) for details of lime application dates and amounts applied, and details of the type and amount of fertilizer N, P, K and Mg applied each year, 1962-1996.

Cropping details (type, variety, sowing and harvest date, 1962-1996) are given in the Crop Yields Dataset Crop Yields dataset.

See site and soil details (pdf) for details of soil type and properties.

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