Woburn Erosion Reference Experiment

  • Experiment Code: W/RN/20
  • Experiment Site: Woburn
  • Objectives: To assess the effects of minimal tillage and contour cultivation on soil erosion, surface runoff, soil loss and crop yield on a sandy soil at Woburn, England
  • Description: Eight plots situated on a slope of about 5 degrees, (7-13%), each separated by a grass bank. The eroded soil and runoff were collected in tanks at the end of each plot after recent erosion. Four plots were cultivated and drilled parallel to the contour, and four up and down the slope. All plots grew the same crops each year, in a rotation typical of the sand soil of Bedfordshire. Four plots received standard cultivation and four minimal tillage.
  • Date Start: 1988
  • Date End: 1998

Key Contacts

  • Margaret Glendining

  • Role: Data Manager
  • ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6466-4629
  • Organisation: Rothamsted Research
  • Address: West Common, Harpenden, Hertfordshire, AL5 2JQ, United Kingdom
  • Andrew Gregory

  • Role: Principal Investigator
  • ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7123-0784
  • Organisation: Rothamsted Research
  • Address: West Common, Harpenden, Hertfordshire, AL5 2JQ, United Kingdom

Funding

  • The e-RA database, including the published datasets generated from it, is part of the Rothamsted Long-Term Experiments - National Bioscience Research Infrastructure (RLTE-NBRI) , which also includes the Long-Term Experiments, the 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 supported by the Lawes Agricultural Trust and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (Grants BBS/E/C/00005189 (2012-2017); BBS/E/C/000J0300 (2017-2022); BBS/E/RH/23NB0007 (2023-2028)).

Experimental Design

Description

  • 2x2 factorial, two blocks. Two directions of cultivation (cultivated and drilled parallel to the contour v up and down the slope). Two types of cultivation (standard cultivation, residue removed v minimal tillage, residues retained). The two blocks had slightly different cropping histories before the experiment began. Standard cultivation was by moldboard plough to approximately 25cm depth. Minimal tillage was by shallow tines or discs to 10cm depth.

Design

  • Period: 1988 - 1998
  • Number of Plots: 8
  • Number of Replicates: 2
  • Number of Harvests per Year: 1

Crops

Crop Years Grown
Spring Barley
Potatoes
Winter Wheat
Winter Barley
Sugar Beet
Fodder Beet
Fallow

Factors

Factors are the interventions or treatments which vary across the experiment.

Cultivation Direction

Description: Two cultivation directions.

Levels
Level Name Amount Years Frequency Crop Method Chemical Form Notes
U: Up and Down the Slope 1988 - 1998 Annual
A: Across the Slope 1988 - 1998 Annual

Tillage Type

Description: Two types of tillage.

Levels
Level Name Amount Years Frequency Crop Method Chemical Form Notes
M: Minimum Tillage, Cereal Straw and Potato and Beet Tops Retained, Partially Incorporated, Cultivated to 10cm Deep. 1988 - 1998 Annual
S: Standard Practice, Cereal Straw Baled and Removed, Potato and Beet Tops Raked and Removed. Mouldboard Ploughed . 1988 - 1998 Annual

Measurements

Variable Unit Collection
Frequency
Material Description Crop
Yield Trait t/ha Annual AllCrops
Water Flow from Plot Water and soil flowing from each plot were chanelled to a collecting trough and through a pipe to two 2000litre storage tanks were they were stored until sampled. The amounts of runoff and soil loss from each plot were measured as soon after each runoff event as practically possible and usually within 48 hours.
Soil Loss from Each Plot kg/ha Water and soil flowing from each plot were chanelled to a collecting trough and through a pipe to two 2000litre storage tanks were they were stored until sampled. The amounts of runoff and soil loss from each plot were measured as soon after each runoff event as practically possible and usually within 48 hours.
Total Soil Phosphorous kgP/ha Total P in sediment sampled determined by ICP after aqua regia digest.
Mrp Molybdate reactive P (MRP) in drainwater and runoff was determined following the method of Murphy and Riley (1962) following filtration using an Alpkem segmented flow colorimetic analyser.
Total Soil Nitrogen kgN/ha total nitrogen lost in sediment
Total Soil Potassium kgK/ha Soil total potassium lost in sediment
Soil Total Carbon % Soil changes in soil carbon content in soil and soil carbon lost in sediment

Site: Woburn Erosion Reference Experiment - Woburn

  • Experiment Site: Woburn
  • Description: Arable field, subject to periodic erosion since at least 1950 (Catt, 1996). Field site managed as an experimental farm since 1875. The two blocks had slightly different cropping histories before the experiment began (see Quinton et al, 2006, Table 2).
  • Management: Conventional management for non-treatment factors.
  • Visit Permitted?: No
  • Visiting Arrangments: None
  • Slope: 5
  • Geolocation:    52.013584, -0.602016

Soil

  • Type: Arenosol
    Derived from Lower Greensand, ranging in texture from loamy sand to sandy loam, corresponding to the Cottenham and Lowlands series, defined by Claydon and Hollis (1984). In the US Soil Taxonomy (Soil Survey Staff 1999) these correspond to Lamellic Ustipsamment and Udic Haplustept respectively. Classified as Lamellic Arenosol and Fluvic Cambisol in the FAO system (FAO, 1998).

Soil Properties

Variable Value Reference Year Is Estimated Is Baseline
Coarse sand content 1.7 (%) NO YES
Medium sand content 44.9 (%) NO YES
Fine sand content 36.3 (%) NO YES
Silt content 9.7 (%) NO YES
Clay content 5.9 (%) NO YES

Datasets available

Title (hover for a longer description) Year of Publication Identifier Version

Crop yield data - Annual

Woburn Erosion Reference Experiment crop yields. 2024 10.23637/wrn20-yield-01
01
.

Images

Key References

2007

  • Quinton, J.N. and Catt, J.A. (2007) "Enrichment of heavy metals in sediment resulting from soil erosion on agricultural fields", Environmental Science and Technology, 41, 3495-3500
    DOI: 10.1021/es062147h

2006

  • Quinton, J.N. , Catt, J.A. , Wood, G.A. and Steer, J. (2006) "Soil carbon losses by water erosion: Experimentation and modeling at field and national scales in the UK", Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 112, 87-102
    DOI: 10.1016/j.agee.2005.07.005

2004

  • Quinton, J.N. and Catt, J.A. (2004) "The effects of minimal tillage and contour cultivation on surface runoff, soil loss and crop yield in the long-term Woburn Erosion Reference Experiment on sandy soil at Woburn, England", Soil Use and Management, 20, 343-349
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-2743.2004.tb00379.x

2001

  • Quinton, J.N. , Catt, J.A. and Hess, T.M. (2001) "The selective removal of phosphorus from soil: Is event size important?", Journal of Environmental Quality, 30, 538-545
    DOI: 10.2134/jeq2001.302538x

1998

  • Catt, J.A. , Howse, K.R. , Farina, R. , Brockie, D. , Todd, A. , Chambers, B.J. , Hodgkinson, R. , Harris, G.L. and Quinton, J.N. (1998) "Phosphorus losses from arable land in England", Soil Use and Management, 14, 168-174
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-2743.1998.tb00636.x

For further information and assistance, please contact the e-RA curators, Sarah Perryman and Margaret Glendining using the e-RA email address: era@rothamsted.ac.uk