Rothamsted Research is a world-leading, non-profit research centre that focuses on strategic agricultural science to the benefit of farmers and society worldwide.
It was founded in Harpenden, south-east England, in 1843 by Sir John Bennet Lawes. Between 1843 and 1856, Lawes and Sir Henry Gilbert established several long-term field experiments. Some failed or were discontinued because of poor soil structure and/or crop diseases. When Lawes died in 1900, the remaining experiments continued more or less as originally planned and are now known as the Classical Experiments. They are the oldest, continuous agronomic experiments in the world and therefore rightfully and uniquely famous. We carefully make management changes every 5-10 years to ensure that these experiments remain relevant. By asking new questions and applying new methods we gain novel insights.
There are several other long-term experiments at Rothamsted (Harpenden), and also at two other sites, Woburn (in Bedfordshire) and Saxmundham (in Suffolk) on contrasting soil types. We make the data and samples collected from the Classical and other long-term experiments available to researchers worldwide.
The site and soils at Rothamsted are described in this booklet: Avery, BW & Catt, JA 1995 'The Soil at Rothamsted', Lawes Agricultural Trust, Harpenden. - underlying map is copyright OS DOI: 10.23637/ERADOC-1-143
Rothamsted Research is the longest-running agricultural research institution in the world. Its foundation dates from 1843 when John Bennet Lawes, the owner of the Rothamsted Estate, appointed Joseph Henry Gilbert, a chemist, as his scientific collaborator and planted the first of what were to become the classical Rothamsted long term experiments, on Broadbalk field. The scientific partnership between Lawes and Gilbert lasted 57 years, and together they laid the foundations of modern scientific agriculture and established the principles of crop nutrition.
|Broadbalk||R/BK/1||To test the effects of various combinations of inorganic fertilizer and organic manures on the yield of winter wheat||1843|
|Broadbalk Wilderness||R/BK/1W||To see the effects on soil and vegetation of allowing arable land to revert naturally to woodland. See also the comparable Geescroft Wilderness site.||1882|
|Park Grass||R/PG/5||To investigate ways of improving the yield of hay by the application of inorganic fertilizers and organic manures||1856|
|Hoosfield Spring Barley||R/HB/2||To test the effects of different inorganic fertilizers and farmyard manure on the yield of spring barley||1852|
|Alternate Wheat and Fallow||R/WF/3||To observe the effects of alternate fallowing on the yield of winter wheat on a part of Hoosfield that had received no applications of fertilizers or manures since 1851||1856-2015|
|Exhaustion Land||R/EX/4||To observe the residual effects of mineral fertilizer and manures on the yield of spring barley and winter wheat. Soils now have a range of plant available P and K||1876|
|Geescroft Wilderness||R/GE/9||To see the effects on soil and vegetation of allowing arable land to revert naturally to woodland. See also the comparable Broadbalk Wilderness site.||1886|
|Garden Clover||R/GC/8||To test factors affecting the persistence of continuous red clover grown on a rich garden soil||1854|
|Agdell||R/AG/6||Effects of fertilizers and organic manures on four-course rotations (cereal, root, legume, fallow). Stopped in 1990 after testing residual effects of P and K. Only archived crop and soil samples are now available||1848-1990|
|Barnfield (incomplete)||R/BN/7||Effects of fertilizers and organic manures on root crops, arable crops and grass & clover. No treatments applied or yields measured since 2001, but the site is still a useful resource for studies on plant nutrient dynamics||1843-2001|
|Acid Strip||R/RS/9||To observe the effects of soil acidity on soil properties under winter wheat||1950|
|Fosters Ley Arable||R/RN/2||To observe the effects of continuous arable and ley arable cropping systems on soil organic matter and fertility, on a site that was originally long-term arable (>100 years)||1948|
|Highfield Ley Arable||R/RN/1||To observe the effects of continuous arable and ley arable cropping systems on soil organic matter and fertility, on a site that was originally long-term grassland (>100 years)||1948|
|Highfield Bare Fallow||R/RS/1||The effects of long-term bare fallow on soil organic matter and fertility, after long-term grass (>100 years)||1959|
|Highfield Conversion||R/CS/767||The effects of changes in agricultural land use and management on crop production and soil physical, chemical and biological parameters, on a site that was originally under long-term grass (>100 years).||2008|
|Fallow Reversion Plots - Highfield||R/CS/683||The effects of converting previously long-term fallow into grass, arable and fallow||2009|
|Fallow Reversion Plots - Geescroft||R/CS/684||The effects of converting previously long-term fallow into grass, arable and fallow||2009|
|Rothamsted Long-term Liming||R/CS/10||To observe the effects of lime, P and K fertilizer treatments on the yield and composition of arable crops (there is a parallel experiment at Woburn)||1962-1996;2018|
|Rothamsted Amounts of Straw||R/CS/326||To study the effects of a range of amounts of straw incorporated into the soil on winter wheat (there is a parallel experiment at Woburn)||1987-2017|
|Rothamsted Continuous Maize||R/CS/477||To monitor the fate of organic carbon in the soil organic matter (there is a parallel experiment at Woburn)||1997-2015|
|Long-term Miscanthus Experiment||R/CS/408||To quantify the biomass yield potential of Miscanthus sinensis giganteus||1993|
For further information and assistance, please contact the e-RA curators, Sarah Perryman and Margaret Glendining using the e-RA email address: email@example.com