RRes
e-RA: the electronic Rothamsted Archive
Rothamsted

Rothamsted Ley Arable

Open access data available: Freely available data on selected soil organic carbon changes over time 1948-2008

Background: The Rothamsted Highfield and Fosters Ley-Arable experiments started in autumn 1948. The two sites have the same soil type but the cropping histories of each are very different. Highfield had been in permanent grass since 1838 (Lawes & Gilbert, 1885); on this site some plots stayed in permanent grass, others went into continuous arable cropping and some alternated between leys and arable. In contrast, Fosters has been in arable cropping for several centuries; on this site some plots stayed in continuous arable, some went into permanent grass and others alternated between leys and arable. Although yields are no longer measured, SOM continues to be monitored. After 40 years, SOM contents on these experiments had not reached new equilibria. In soils ploughed out of permanent grass, SOM was still declining whilst it continued to increase in soils under permanent grass. However, after 60 years a new equilibrium was being reached.

Background taken from the Rothamsted Guide to the Classical Experiments 2018, page 37.

Highfield Ley-Arable, Rothamsted

Highfield Ley Arable

R/RN/1 Effects of continuous arable and ley arable cropping systems on soil organic matter and fertility; originally long-term grassland (>100 years).

Design: Four blocks of four plots (total of 16 plots, each 300m2) each testing the effects of permanent grass, rotational grass, arable and bare fallow, were established on a long-term grassland site (>100 years). Two blocks are in winter wheat test crops each year whilst the other two are in treatment crops. Yields are no longer taken, but soils are taken about every 5 years. In 2008 two plots within each block were used to establish the Highfield Conversion Experiment (see below).

Strengths: It is the only site at Rothamsted available for studying the effects of converting long-term grass to arable and bare-fallow treatments, on SOC and fertility. It provides contrasting comparisons with the Fosters Ley-arable experiment where similar treatments were established on a long-term arable site and the Woburn Ley-arable experiment. Many archived samples and data are available.

For more details and references, see Fosters Ley-Arable, below.

Back to top

Fosters Ley-Arable, Rothamsted

Fosters Ley Arable

R/RN/2 Effects of continuous arable and ley arable cropping systems on soil organic matter and fertility; originally long-term arable (>100 years).

Design: Four blocks of five plots (total of 20 plots) each testing the effects of permanent grass, rotational grass, arable and bare fallow, were established on a long-term arable site (>100 years). Two blocks are in winter wheat test crops each year whilst the other two are in treatment crops. Yields are no longer taken, but soils are taken about every 5 years.

Strengths: The experiment provides comparison with the Highfield Ley-arable experiment where similar treatments were established on a long-term grassland site and the Woburn Ley-arable experiment. Many archived samples and data are available.

 

Key References

2016

2009

1973

1949

1885

RRes Logo - Back to RRes