Dataset: Woburn Ley-arable experiment cropping sequence 1938-2020

Woburn Ley-arable treatment code summary, 1938-2020

Woburn Ley-arable treatment code summary, 1938-2020


Cropping details of the Woburn Ley-arable experiment, 1938-2020, with details of the arable and ley-arable rotation sequences in each of the five Blocks, and the different treatment crops and varieties. Updated from Version 1, with addition of cropping database. The experiment was designed to test the effects of different rotations with and without leys (short-term herbage) on the yield of two arable Test crops. It is now an important resource for investigating long-term changes in soil organic matter due to different cropping systems.


The Woburn Ley-arable Experiment, started in 1938, compares the effects of continuous arable rotations and ley-arable rotations on soil organic matter and the yield of two arable test crops, on a sandy loam soil. It consists of 80 main plots, divided over five blocks. Half the plots have been in four continuous five-year arable or ley-arable rotations since 1938: three years of Treatment crops followed by two arable Test crops. The Treatments were: Ah/AB/ABe (all arable rotation with 1-year hay or beans); Ar/AF/AM (all arable rotation with roots or fallow or maize); L/Ln3 (3-year grazed ley then grass ley with fertilizer N); Lu/Lc3 (3-year legume then grass/clover ley).
The other 40 plots were in alternating rotations from 1938 to the mid-1970s: a 20-year cycle of all four arable and ley-arable rotations. These were replaced by eight-year grass or grass/clover leys in the mid-1970s: LLn8 (8-year grass leys with fertilizer N, followed by two arable test crops); LLc8 (8-year grass/clover leys, followed by two arable test crops). The rotations are phased in over a five-year period in the five different blocks, so that each year of the five-year rotation is present each year. The eight-year leys were also phased in, the first cycle starting 1973-77, the second cycle 1978-82. The four eight-year leys were stopped in 2007 and replaced with AO (continuous arable with oats); ABe (continuous arable with beans); Ln3 (three-year grass leys with nitrogen); Lc3 (three-year grass/clover leys).

Technical Information

The main plots are in pairs, one of each pair received FYM (farmyard manure) applied every fifth year, to the first test crop, 1941-1967.

Related Documents


  • Paul Poulton: Researcher
  • Edward Johnston: Researcher
  • Andrew Macdonald: Researcher
  • Margaret Glendining: Data curator
  • Richard Ostler: Data manager
  • Nathalie Castells-Brooke: Data manager
  • Andy Gregory: Project leader

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: Paul Poulton, Edward Johnston, Andrew Macdonald, Margaret Glendining, Richard Ostler (2022). Dataset: Woburn Ley-arable experiment cropping sequence 1938-2020 Electronic Rothamsted Archive, Rothamsted Research

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Table Of Contents

-Cropping data, with details of the crop grown on each plot on each year -Crop types, including variety -Rotation types, with details of the different arable and ley-arable rotations -Details of FYM application -Management notes

Taken from the Rothamsted Yield Books, field plans and paper archive.

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