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


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). There is a parallel experiment at Woburn Experimental Farm. Since 1997 the experiment has been in grass.


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 soil extracted with a solution of 0.5 M NaHCO3, buffered at pH8.5, after the method of Olsen et al, 1954.
  • 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.

Related Documents

Related Datasets


  • Margaret Glendining: Data curator
  • Jonathan Holland: Researcher
  • Steve McGrath: Project manager
  • Keith Goulding: Project member
  • Nathalie Castells-Brooke: Data manager

Dataset Access and Conditions

Rights Holder

Rothamsted Research


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

Cite this Dataset

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

Please review our How to Credit Datasets guidance for more information.

Conditions of Use

Rothamsted relies on the integrity of users to ensure that datasets are used appropriately and Rothamsted Research receives suitable acknowledgment as being the originators of these data. Please review the Conditions of Use before downloading.

Table Of Contents

An Excel file, 01-RothLTliming-soil.xlsx contains soil pH, Olsen P (plant-available soil P) and exchangeable cations (Ca, K, Mg and Na), measured several times 1962-1994 (not measured every year). Also included are details of the lime (chalk) applications and the different fertilizer treatments.

Frictionless CSV files are provided for users who prefer CSV over Excel files.

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.

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