Dataset: Broadbalk Crop Nutrient Content, Maize 1997-2017


From 1968 Broadbalk was divided into 10 sections. Grain and straw from selected sections and plots of all crops (wheat and rotational crops) were collected and stored in the Sample Archive. They were analysed for Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), Potassium (K), Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg), Sodium (Na) and Sulphur (S). Data is presented here for % nutrients in forage maize and is the response to different fertiliser treatments and cropping.


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 treatment values, and have not been subtracted.

Related Documents


  • Sarah Perryman: Data curator
  • Margaret Glendining: Data curator
  • Ruth Skilton: Data collector
  • Mark Durenkamp: Data collector
  • Chloe Garwood: Data collector
  • Richard Ostler: Project leader
  • Andrew Macdonald: Project manager
  • Paul Poulton: Researcher
  • Chris MacKay: Data collector

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Rothamsted Research


Creative Commons License This dataset is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Licence (4.0).

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Table Of Contents

Broadbalk forage maize nutrient data (N, P, K, Ca, Mg and Na) 1997-2017. See Broadbalk Nutrients Available Wheat.pdf for detail.

This dataset is derived from measurements made by the Analytical Chemistry Unit, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden.

The Analytical Chemistry Unit follows the Joint Code of Practice (JCoPR) and participates in European Quality Assurance programmes. All performance is strictly monitored using certified external standards alongside in-house standard materials. Standards and check samples are monitored and recorded.

With thanks to Andy Macdonald, Paul Poulton, Steve Freeman, Ruth Skilton and Wendy Gregory for help with compiling this information. Nutrient data for other crops on Broadbalk is available as separate datasets – see Related Documents.

1968-1975 Section 1 continuous wheat + 1st wheat section – all nutrients, 1976-1985 Section 1 continuous wheat + 1st wheat section – nitrogen only, 1986-1995 Section 1 continuous wheat + 1st wheat in rotation section – all nutrients, 1996-1997 Sections 1, 6 & 9 continuous wheat + 1st wheat in rotation section – all nutrients, 1998-2003 All sections with wheat, continuous and rotational – all nutrients*$, 2004 Continuous wheat sections only – all nutrients, 2005 All sections with wheat – all nutrients, 2006-2017 All continuous wheat sections except 6 and all first wheats in rotation^

*no Na data section 3 2000; no data section 8 as fallow for weed control 2001; $section 1 2003 and 2004 no wheat as fallow for control of Equisetum; ^ no wheat in section 8 2015 & 2016 as fallow for weed control.

For further information and assistance, please contact the e-RA curators, Sarah Perryman and Margaret Glendining using the e-RA email address: