Dataset: Rothamsted long-term liming experiment soil chemical properties 1962-1996

Citation:  Margaret Glendining, Jonathan Holland, Steve McGrath, Keith Goulding (2023). Rothamsted long-term liming experiment soil chemical properties 1962-1996 Electronic Rothamsted Archive, Rothamsted Research 10.23637/rcs10-soil-01
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Example dataset derived from the data. Lime applications indicated by +

Example dataset derived from the data. Lime applications indicated by +


The experiment tests the effects of different amounts of lime (and thus soil pH), P and K on a sequence of arable crops, on a silty clay loam soil at Rothamsted Experimental Farm, from 1962-1996. Mg, Mn and S were tested on split plots at different times. Target soil pH was 4.5, 5.5, 6.5 and 7.5. This dataset contains soil pH, Olsen P and exchangeable cations (Ca, K, Mg and Na, ammonium acetate method), on soil sampled several times between 1962 and 1996. There is also a baseline sampling before the experiment was established. There was a parallel experiment at Woburn Experimental Farm.

The experiment was under grass from 1997-2019 and no treatments were applied. In April 2019 the experiment was revived, and is currently being used to investigate the effect of different lime, P and Zn treatments on macro and micro nutrient uptake of wheat varieties. For more details contact Dr SM Haefele.

This dataset was partially funded by the BBSRC Institute Strategic Programme Soil to Nutrition (BBS/E/C/000I0310).


Period 1 (1962-1980): four lime levels with and without fertilizer P and K. Magnesium was tested on split plots 1974-1978. Period 2 (1981-1996): four lime levels with four P levels. Manganese was tested on split plots 1987-1990; Sulphur was tested on split plots 1991-1996. 2 replicates.

  • Soil pH measured in water: 1:2.5 soil: water suspension using a standard electrode and pH meter.
  • Olsen P (plant-available soil P) soil extracted with a solution of 0.5 M NaHCO3, buffered at pH8.5, after the method of Olsen et al, 1954. Shown as mg PO4-P/kg dry soil.
  • Exchangeable cations measured in sieved (<2mm) air-dry soil leached with 1 M ammonium acetate, adjusted to pH 7. Leachates analysed by emission or atomic absorption flame spectrophotometry. Since 1989, the extracts have been analysed by ICP-OES (Inductively Coupled Plasma - Optical Emission Spectrometer).

Technical Information

Air-dried soil, sieved (<2mm). Topsoil (usually 0-23cm) and some sub-soil measurements. For topsoil 12-20 cores were taken from the central area of each plot and combined to make one sample. For subsoil, generally 5-6 cores were taken and combined. Baseline soil pH measurements were taken in February 1962, before the first lime application. Soil samples were generally taken in the autumn, after the current crop was harvested and before the soil was ploughed for the next harvest year, so that the soil properties could be related to the treatments applied in the previous harvest year. The soil was analysed shortly after sampling.

Related Documents

Related Datasets


  • Margaret Glendining: Data curator
  • Nathalie Castells: Data manager
  • Steve McGrath: Project manager
  • Keith Goulding: Project member
  • Jonathan Holland: Researcher
  • Melanie Brookman: Data collector
  • Wendy Wilmer: Data collector
  • Chloe Garwood: Data collector
  • Mark Durenkamp: Data collector
  • Adrian Crosland: Data collector
  • Ian Shield: Project manager

Dataset Access and Conditions

Rights Holder

Rothamsted Research


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

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YOU MUST CITE AS: Margaret Glendining, Jonathan Holland, Steve McGrath, Keith Goulding (2023). Dataset: Rothamsted long-term liming experiment soil chemical properties 1962-1996 Electronic Rothamsted Archive, Rothamsted Research

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Table Of Contents

An excel file, 01-RLTLSOIL.xlsx, contains the soil pH, Olsen P and exchangeable cation data, for 1962-1996. Frictionless csv files are provided for users who prefer csv format. A README tab contains extensive metadata information.

Information is taken from original raw data sheets and analysis files, held in the archives at Rothamsted Research. The data is derived from measurements made by the Analytical Chemistry Unit, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden.

In accordance with the Joint Code of Practice for Research at Rothamsted, data processing in e-RA follow rigorous standard operating procedures to ensure the quality and correctness of data collected in the field through to depositing in the e-RA database. To ensure quality control during data inputting, the data sets were typed on two separate occasions (double data entry). During the second typing (verification) the data values were compared with those typed on the earlier occasion, and any discrepancies were resolved before verification continued. This procedure also set out how to handle situations where the written records were illegible or ambiguous. This procedure avoided visual checking of data, which can be very inaccurate. 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.

  • Olsen et al, 1954 Olsen S.R., Cole C.V., Watanabe F.S., Dean L.A. (1954) Estimation of available phosphorus in soils by extraction with sodium bicarbonate. USDA Circular 939, US Gov. Print. Office, Washington, D.C.

  • The dataset Rothamsted long-term liming experiment soil chemical properties 1962-1996 is a published dataset from the e-RA Database. e-RA is part of the Rothamsted Long-Term Experiments - National Bioscience Research Infrastructure (RLTE-NBRI), which also covers maintenance of the Long-Term Experiments, the Rothamsted Sample Archive and Rothamsted's environmental monitoring activities including the weather stations and its role in the UK Environmental Change Network
  • The RLTE-NBRI is funded by UK Research and Innovation - Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (UKRI-BBSRC) under award BBS/E/RH/23NB0007 (2023-2028). The RLTE-NBRI is also supported by the Lawes Agricultural Trust. e-RA has been part of a National Capability since 2012, previous awards from the BBSRC were Grants BBS/E/C/00005189 (2012-2017) and BBS/E/C/000J0300 (2017-2022)

Additional Funding sources

This project also received funding from the following sources

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