Rothamsted Long-term Liming Experiment

  • Experiment Code: R/CS/10
  • Experiment Site: Rothamsted
  • Objectives: To study the effects of different amounts of lime (and thus soil pH), P and K on the yields of a sequence of arable crops.
  • Description: Yields of various 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 plots have been in grass and no further treatments have been applied.
  • Date Start: 1962
  • Date End: 1996

Key Contacts

  • Sarah Perryman

  • Role: Data Manager
  • 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
  • Andy Macdonald

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

Funding

Experimental Design

Description

  • The original 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 18 m. Until 1978 test P and K were both applied cumulatively. In 1962 columns of 4 plots were split for uninoculated v inoculated seed. 1969, 1979 and 1980 were fallow years. In 1974 plots were subdivided for a comparison of with and without Magnesium, applied at 112 kgMg/ha/yr in 1974, 1976-1978.

Design

  • Period: 1962 - 1980
  • Number of Blocks: 2
  • Number of Blocks: 32
  • Number of Replicates: 2
  • Number of Sub-plots: 2
  • Number of Harvests per Year: 1

Crops

Crop Years Grown
Spring Beans1962 - 1964
Spring Barley1965 - 1967
Potatoes1968 -
Fallow1969 -
Spring Oats1975 -
Spring Oilseed Rape1976 -

Factors

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

Liming Exposure

Description: Four rates of lime: control, low, medium and high. Applied in 1962, 1963 and 1978. Amounts given are the total amounts applied, see comments for splits.

Application: Whole Plot

Levels
Level Name Amount Years Frequency Crop Method Chemical Form Notes
Control Exposure 0 t/ha 1962 - 1980
Lime Low 7 t/ha 1962 - 1980 twice 5 t/ha in 1962, 2 t/ha in 1978
Lime Medium 15 t/ha 1962 - 1980 twice 10 t/ha in 1962, 5 t/ha in 1978
Lime High 30 t/ha 1962 - 1980 twice 15 t/ha in 1962, 5 t/ha in 1963, 10 t/ha in 1978

Phosphorus (p) Fertilizer Exposure

Description: P either applied or not applied to plots. Treatments not applied in fallow years.

Application: Whole Plot

Levels
Level Name Amount Years Frequency Crop Method Chemical Form Notes
Control Exposure 0 kgP/ha 1962 - 1980
P Fertilizer Exposure 27.5 kgP/ha 1962 - 1980 annually in spring triple superphosphate 55 kgP/ha applied to potatoes. Not applied in fallow years 1969, 1979, 1980.

Potassium (k) Fertilizer Exposure

Description: K either applied or not applied to plots. Treatments not applied in fallow years.

Application: Whole Plot

Levels
Level Name Amount Years Frequency Crop Method Chemical Form Notes
Control Exposure 104 kgK/ha 1962 - 1980 annually in spring muriate of potash In 1968 and 1974, 156 kgK/ha was applied to potatoes. Not applied in fallow years 1969, 1979 or 1980.
Potassium K 104 kgK/ha 1962 - 1980 annually in spring muriate of potash In 1968 and 1974, 156 kgK/ha was applied to potatoes. Not applied in fallow years 1969, 1979 or 1980.

Rhizobium Leguminosarum Exposure

Description: Spring beans seed inoculated with Rhizobium

Application: Sub Plot

Levels
Level Name Amount Years Frequency Crop Method Chemical Form Notes
Control Exposure 0 1962 - 1962 spring beans
Inoculated 1962 - 1962 spring beans seed dressing

Magnesium (mg) Fertilizer Exposure

Description: Magnesium either applied or not applied to sub-plots

Application: Sub Plot

Levels
Level Name Amount Years Frequency Crop Method Chemical Form Notes
Control Exposure 0 kgMg/ha 1974 - 1978
Magnesium Mg 112 kgMg/ha 1974 - 1978 annually in spring magnesium sulphate Not applied in 1975. Applied as Epsom salts 1974-1977 and as Kieserite in 1978.

Measurements

Variable Unit Collection
Frequency
Material Description Crop
Yield Components t/ha annually AllCrops Crop grain yields at 85% dry matter for cereals, 90% dry matter for oilseeds and fresh weight for potatoes. No straw data.
Soil pH every few years pH in water 1:2.5 soil: water suspension from topsoil (0-23cm). Sampled in autumn/winter after harvest and before sowing the next crop.
Plant Available Phosphorous ppm Every few years Soil Olsen P (plant-available P) in soil, ppm in soil.

Description

  • The experiment was modified in 1981. The 4 lime treatments continued, the PK treatments were replaced with 4 P levels with two replicates (4 x 4 x 2). The main plots were split into sub-plots 1987-1990 to test foliar Manganese, and in 1991-1996 to test Sulphur

Design

  • Period: 1981 - 1996
  • Number of Blocks: 32
  • Number of Replicates: 2
  • Number of Sub-plots:
  • Number of Harvests per Year: 1

Crops

Crop Years Grown
Oats1981 - 1982
Potatoes1983 -
Fallow1984 -
Barley1985 -
Triticales1986 -
Lupins1987 -
Beans1989 - 1990
Rapeseed1991 - 1992
Lupins1993 - 1994
Wheat1995 - 1996

Factors

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

Phosphorus (p) Fertilizer Exposure

Application: Whole Plot

Levels
Level Name Amount Years Frequency Crop Method Chemical Form Notes
Control Exposure 0 kgP/ha 1981 - 1996 Control treatment 1962-1980, no fertilizer P applied.
P1 kgP/ha 1981 - 1996 triple superphosphate 25 kgP/ha applied in 1981, 1982 and 1988. Received K treatment 1962-1980, no fertilizer P applied.
P2 kgP/ha 1981 - 1996 triple superphosphate 25, 50 & 25 kgP/ha applied in 1981, 1983 and 1988 respectively. Received P treatment 1962-1980, a total of 495kgP/ha.
P3 kgP/ha 1981 - 1996 triple superphosphate 75, 25, 50 & 75 kgP/ha applied in 1981, 1982, 1983 and 1988 respectively. Received PK treatment 1962-1980, a total of 495kgP/ha.

Liming Exposure

Description: Continuation of 4 treatments in Period 1. Further applications in 1981, 1982 and 1986. Amounts given are the total amounts applied, see comments for splits.

Application: Whole Plot

Levels
Level Name Amount Years Frequency Crop Method Chemical Form Notes
Control Exposure 0 t/ha 1980 - 1996
Lime Low 8.0 t/ha 1982 - 1987 3 times ground chalk 2, 5 and 1 t/ha chalk applied 1982, 1983 and 1987 respectively. Total application 1962-1987 = 15 t/ha.
Lime Medium 9.5 t/ha 1982 - 1987 3 times ground chalk 5, 3 and 1.5 t/ha chalk applied 1982, 1983 and 1987 respectively. Total application 1962-1987 = 24.5 t/ha.
Lime High 22.5 t/ha 1982 - 1987 3 times ground chalk 10, 10 and 2.5 t/ha chalk applied 1982, 1983 and 1987 respectively. Total application 1962-1987 = 52.5 t/ha.

Manganese Exposure

Description: Manganese fertilizer applied to split plots

Levels
Level Name Amount Years Frequency Crop Method Chemical Form Notes
Control Exposure 0 kg/ha 1987 - 1990
Manganese 0.3 kg/ha 1987 - 1990 annually manganese sprays Foliar spray applied twice a year

Sulphur Fertilizer Exposure

Description: Sulphur fertilizer applied to split plots

Levels
Level Name Amount Years Frequency Crop Method Chemical Form Notes
Control Exposure 0 kg/ha 1991 - 1996
Sulphur 30 1991 - 1996 Annual calcium sulfate

Measurements

Variable Unit Collection
Frequency
Material Description Crop
Yield Components t/ha annually AllCrops Crop grain yields at 85% dry matter for cereals, 90% dry matter for oilseeds and fresh weight for potatoes. No straw data.
Soil pH every few years Soil pH in water 1:2.5 soil: water suspension from topsoil (0-23cm). Sampled in autumn/winter after harvest and before sowing the next crop.
Plant Available Phosphorous ppm Every few years Soil Olsen P (plant-available P) in soil, ppm in soil.

Site: Sawyers Field I - Rothamsted

  • Experiment Site: Rothamsted
  • Description: The site is an old arable site, which had not grown beans for many years. The soil was acidic and deficient in P and K. The intial pH ranged between 4.8 and 5.6. The experiment was started in 1962.
  • Management: From 1962-1996 the site was managed according to conventional practices. In most years N fertilizer was applied at a rate appropriate for the crop and site, and a range of conventional pesticides were used to control weeds, pests and diseases. Since 1997 the plots have been in grass and no treatments are applied.
  • Visit Permitted?: No
  • Elevation: 130 Metres
  • Geolocation:    51.8157, -0.3752

Soil

  • Type: Luvisol
    Chromic Luvisols and Orthic Acrisols Podzoluvisols (FAO). Paleo-argillic brown earth (Soil Survey England & Wales) Paleudalfs, Hapludalfs (Fragiudalfs) (US Soil Taxonomy). Derived from drift and loess over clay-with-flints. Batcombe series, Flinty silty clay loam (Bolton 1977).

Soil Properties

Variable Value Reference Year Is Estimated Is Baseline
Coarse sand content (2-0.2 mm) 14% (Percent) 1974 NO NO
Fine sand content (0.2- 0.02 mm) 40% (Percent) 1974 NO NO
Silt content (0.02-0.002 mm) 23% (Percent) 1974 NO NO
Clay content < 2 µm 21% (Percent) 1974 NO NO
Soil total carbon 1.4% (Percent) 1974 NO NO
Total soil nitrogen 0.15% (Percent) 1974 NO NO
Soil density 2800t/ha (tonnes per hectare) 1905 NO NO
Soil pH 5.1 (pH) 1962 NO YES

Datasets available

Rothamsted long-term liming experiment crop yield 1962-1996
Crop yield data The experiment tests the effects of different amounts of lime (and thus soil pH), P and K on the yields of a sequence of arable crops, on a silty clay loam soil at Rothamsted Experimental Farm, from 1962-1996.
RLTLYIELDS
Rothamsted long-term liming experiment grain mineral composition
Crop nutrient data The experiment tests the effects of four different amounts of lime (creating a soil pH range for approximately 4. 5 to 7. 5) with and without fertilizer P, on the grain mineral compostion of three arable crops.
RLTLGRAIN
Additional data is available through e-RAdata. Please register for access.

Picture Gallery

More about the Rothamsted long-term liming experiment

Plans and treatments:
Experimental plans, lime and fertilizer treatments details 1962-1996

Key References

2021

  • Jordan-Meille, L. , Holland, J. E. , Mcgrath, S. P. , Glendining, M. J. , Thomas, C. L. and Haefele, S. M. (2021) "Woburn long-term liming experiment grain mineral composition data", Electronic Rothamsted Archive, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, UK
    DOI: 10.23637/wcs10-wltlgrain-01
  • Jordan-Meille, L. , Holland, J. E. , Mcgrath, S. P. , Glendining, M. J. , Thomas, C. L. and Haefele, S. M. (2021) "Rothamsted long-term liming experiment grain mineral composition data. ", Electronic Rothamsted Archive, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, UK
    DOI: 10.23637/rcs10-rltlgrain-01
  • Jordan-Meille, L. , Holland, J. E. , Mcgrath, S. P. , Glendining, M. J. , Thomas, C. L. and Haefele, S. M. (2021) "The grain mineral composition of barley, oat and wheat on soils with pH and soil phosphorus gradients", European Journal of Agronomy, 126, 126281
    DOI: 10.1016/j.eja.2021.126281
  • Clarke, A. (2021) "Why regular liming can raise profits by up to 436/ha/yr", 05 February 2021
    .https://www.fwi.co.uk/arable/land-preparation/soils/why-regular-liming-can-raise-profits-by-up-to-436-ha-year.

2020

  • Holland, J. E. and Behrendt, K. (2020) "The economics of liming in arable crop rotations: analysis of the 35-year Rothamsted and Woburn liming experiments", Soil Use and Management, 1-11
    DOI: 10.1111/sum.12682
  • Glendining, M. J. , Mcgrath, S. P. , Goulding, K. W. T. and Holland, J. E. (2020) "Woburn long-term liming experiment crop yields 1962-1996", Electronic Rothamsted Archive, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, UK
    DOI: 10.23637/wcs10-wltlyields-01
  • Glendining, M. J. , Mcgrath, S. P. , Goulding, K. W. T. and Holland, J. E. (2020) "Rothamsted long-term liming experiment crop yields 1962-1996", Electronic Rothamsted Archive, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, UK
    DOI: 10.23637/rcs10-rltlyields-01
  • Glendining, M. J. (2020) "Woburn long-term liming experiment lime and fertilizer treatments 1962-1996", Electronic Rothamsted Archive, Rothamsted Research
    DOI: 10.23637/wcs10-Treatments-01
  • Glendining, M. J. (2020) "Rothamsted long-term liming experiment lime and fertilizer treatments 1962-1996", Electronic Rothamsted Archive, Rothamsted Research
    DOI: 10.23637/rcs10-Treatments-01
  • Glendining, M. J. (2020) "Rothamsted long-term liming experiment plans 1962-1996", Electronic Rothamsted Archive, Rothamsted Research
    DOI: 10.23637/rcs10-Plans
  • Glendining, M. J. (2020) "Woburn long-term liming experiment plans 1962-1996", Electronic Rothamsted Archive, Rothamsted Research
    DOI: 10.23637/wcs10-Plans

2019

  • Holland, J. E. , White, P. J. , Glendining, M. J. , Goulding, K. W. T. and Mcgrath, S. P. (2019) "Yield responses of arable crops to liming - An evaluation of relationships between yields and soil pH from a long-term liming experiment", European Journal of Agronomy, 105, 176-188
    DOI: 10.1016/j.eja.2019.02.016

2017

  • Watts, C. W. , Glendining, M. J. and Castells-Brooke, N. I. D. (2017) "Woburn Experimental Farm Soil and Field Maps", Electronic Rothamsted Archive, Rothamsted Research
    DOI: 10.23637/ws-soil-maps-01

2016

  • Goulding, K. W. T. (2016) "Soil acidification and the importance of liming agricultural soils with particular reference to the United Kingdom", Soil Use and Management, 32, 390-399
    DOI: 10.1111/sum.12270

2006

  • Kemmitt, S. J. , Wright, D. , Goulding, K. W. T. and Jones, D. L. (2006) "pH regulation of carbon and nitrogen dynamics in two agricultural soils", Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 38, 898-911
    DOI: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2005.08.006

1993

  • Wang, G. M. , Stribley, D. P. , Tinker, P. B. and Walker, C. (1993) "EFFECTS OF PH ON ARBUSCULAR MYCORRHIZA .1. FIELD OBSERVATIONS ON THE LONG-TERM LIMING EXPERIMENTS AT ROTHAMSTED AND WOBURN", New Phytologist, 124, 465-472
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.1993.tb03837.x

1990

  • Mcewen, J. , Yeoman, D. P. and Mcgrath, S. P. (1990) "effects of pH, phosphate and manganese on spring-sown Vicia faba L.", FABIS Newsletter

1989

  • Goulding, K. W. T. , Mcgrath, S. P. and Johnston, A. E. (1989) "Predicting the lime requirement of soils under permanent grassland and arable crops", Soil Use & Management, 5, 54-58
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-2743.1989.tb00760.x

1986

  • Sanders, J. R. , Mcgrath, S. P. and Adams, T. M. (1986) "ZINC, COPPER AND NICKEL CONCENTRATIONS IN RYEGRASS GROWN ON SEWAGE SLUDGE-CONTAMINATED SOILS OF DIFFERENT PH", Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 37, 961-968
    DOI: 10.1002/jsfa.2740371003

1977

  • Bolton, J. (1977) "Liming effects on response of potatoes and oats to phosphorus, potassium and magnesium fertilizers", Journal of Agricultural Science, 89, 87-93
    DOI: 10.1017/S0021859600027222
  • Bolton, J. (1977) "Changes in soil pH and exchangeable calcium in 2 liming experiments on contrasting soils over 12 years", Journal of Agricultural Science, 89, 81-86
    DOI: 10.1017/S0021859600027210

1976

  • Bolton, J. (1976) "Liming and interaction of soil pH with responses to P, K and Mg fertilizers", Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 27, 593-593

1971

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