Saxmundham Experimental Station is in East Suffolk, five miles (8 km) from the sea and 110 miles (177 km) East of Rothamsted. The soil is a heavy sandy clay loam which can be difficult to cultivate, providing a contrast with the soils at Rothamsted and Woburn. Two long-term experiments were started in 1899 by East Suffolk County Council. Each consisted of four blocks so that a typical Norfolk four-course rotation could be grown, with each crop present each year. Rothamsted assumed responsibility for the site in 1965 and the experiments were reviewed and modified. Rothamsted relinquished the site in 2010.

The Saxmundham experimental site is currently supported by The Morley Agricultural Foundation and delivered by NIAB.

Site: Saxmundham Research Station

  • Site: Saxmundham Experimental Station
  • Location: Saxmundham, Suffolk
  • Latitude: 52.22 N
  • Longitude: 1.47 E
  • Altitude (m asl): 37

Average annual temperature and rainfall (1966-1985) are 9.5°C and 618mm respectively. See Saxmundham monthly meteorological summaries, 1966-85 for more details ADD LINK

See Goulding et al (1986) for details of atmospheric deposition at Saxmundham, 1969-1984.


  • Type: International Classification: Eutric Gleysol (IUSS Working Group WRB, 2015)
  • Sandy clay loam developed in drift over Chalky Boulder Clay (Hodge, 1972)
  • Soil Survey of England & Wales Series: Beccles Series (Corbett & Tatler, 1970)

For more details of the Beccles and other soil series, see Cranfield University 2018 Soils Guide.

The soil is typical of large areas of Eastern England. The field is drained (Williams, 1971) but the soil can be difficult to manage when weather conditions are unfavourable (Cooke & Williams, 1972).


In 1899 two long-term experiments, Rotation I and Rotation II, were started at Saxmundham by the Education Committee of the East Suffolk County Council. Each consisted of four blocks so that a typical Norfolk four-course rotation could be grown, with each crop present each year. NAAS (now ADAS) managed the site from 1947 until 1963, and when ARC (later AFRC, now BBSRC) acquired the lease in 1964, Rothamsted assumed responsibility for managing the experimental programme, and the experiments were reviewed and modified. The reasons why the experiments were established, and early results are given by Oldershaw (1941).

Experiments at Saxmundham

Experiment Code Purpose Started
Saxmundham Rotation 1 S/RN/1 Since 1965, to observe crop responses to P and K and their interactions with N, particularly with high rates of N applied to high yielding wheat cultivars for bread-making quality. From 1899-1964 to test combinations of N, P, K and organic manures on a typical four-course arable rotation. 1899 - 2010
Saxmundham Rotation 2 S/RN/2 Since 1965, to look at the response of various crops to fresh and residual soil P, and the decline in plant-available P when P fertilizer was no longer applied. From 1899 to 1964 to look at how limited amounts of FYM, sodium nitrate and superphosphate could best be used over a typical four-course arable rotation. 1899 - 2010


Key References


  • Poulton, P.R. and Glendining, M.J.(2019) "Saxmundham Rotation II experimental details, 1969-1986"
    DOI: 10.23637/srn2-details1969-01
  • Johnston, A.E. and Poulton, P.R.(2019) "Phosphorus in Agriculture: A Review of Results from 175 Years of Research at Rothamsted, UK", Journal of Environmental Quality, 48, 1133-1144
    DOI: 10.2134/jeq2019.02.0078


  • Macdonald, A. , Poulton, P. , Clark, I. , Scott, T. , Glendining, M. , Perryman, S. , Storkey, J. , Bell, J. , Shield, I. , McMillan, V. and Hawkins, J.(2018) "Guide to the Classical and Other Long-term experiments, Datasets and Sample Archive. Rothamsted Research", Rothamsted Research , , 57 pp.


  • Johnston, A.E. , Poulton, P.R. , White, R.P. and Macdonald, A.J.(2016) "Determining the longer term decline in plant-available soil phosphorus from short-term measured values", Soil Use and Management, 32, 151-161
    DOI: 10.1111/sum.12253


  • Johnston, A.E. , Poulton, P.R. , Fixen, P.E. and Curtin, D.(2014) "Phosphorus: Its Efficient Use in Agriculture", Advances in Agronomy, 123, 177-228
    DOI: 10.1016/b978-0-12-420225-2.00005-4
  • Johnston, A.E. and Poulton, P.R.(2014) "Changing concepts for the efficient use of phosphorus in agriculture. ", Proceedings 757, 40pp


  • Johnston, A.E. , Poulton, P.R. and White, R.P.(2013) "Plant-available soil phosphorus. Part II: the response of arable crops to Olsen P on a sandy clay loam and a silty clay loam", Soil Use and Management, 29, 12-21
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-2743.2012.00449.x


  • Johnston, A.E. and Poulton, P.R.(2011) "Response of cereals to soil and fertilizer phosphorus", HGCA Research Review 74 ,




  • Johnston, A.E. , Poulton, P.R. and Syers, J.K.(2001) "Phosphorus, potassium and sulphur cycles in agricultural soils.", Proceedings 465, 44pp


  • Bradbury, N.J. , Whitmore, A.P. , Hart, P.B.S. and Jenkinson, D.S.(1993) "Modelling the fate of nitrogen in crop and soil in the years following application of 15N labelled fertilizer to winter wheat", Journal of Agricultural Science, 121, 363-379
    DOI: 10.1017/S0021859600085567
  • Hart, P.B.S. , Powlson, D.S. , Poulton, P.R. , Johnston, A.E. and Jenkinson, D.S.(1993) "The availability of the nitrogen in the crop residues of winter wheat to subsequent crops", Journal of Agricultural Science, 121, 355-362
    DOI: 10.1017/S0021859600085555


  • Addiscott, T.M. and Powlson, D.S.(1992) "Partitioning Losses of Nitrogen-Fertilizer between Leaching and Denitrification", Journal of Agricultural Science, 118, 101-107
    DOI: 10.1017/S0021859600068052
  • Powlson, D.S. , Hart, P.B.S. , Poulton, P.R. , Johnston, A.E. and Jenkinson, D.S.(1992) "Influence of Soil Type, Crop Management and Weather on the Recovery of N-15-Labeled Fertilizer Applied to Winter-Wheat in Spring", Journal of Agricultural Science, 118, 83-100
    DOI: 10.1017/s0021859600068040


  • Macdonald, A.J. , Powlson, D.S. , Poulton, P.R. and Jenkinson, D.S.(1989) "Unused fertiliser nitrogen in arable soils - its contribution to nitrate leaching", Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 46, 407-419
    DOI: 10.1002/jsfa.2740460404


  • Powlson, D.S. , Poulton, P.R. , Penny, A. and Hewitt, M.V.(1987) "Recovery of N-15-labeled urea applied to the foliage of winter-wheat", Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 41, 195-203
    DOI: 10.1002/jsfa.2740410302
  • Johnston, A.E.(1987) "Saxmundham Experimental Station 1899-1986. A review of the achievements during 1965-1986. ", , 265-279
    Get from eRAdoc: ResReport1986p1andp2-267-281


  • Powlson, D.S. , Hart, P.B.S. , Pruden, G. and Jenkinson, D.S.(1986) "Recovery of 15N-labelled fertilizer applied in autumn to winter wheat at four sites in eastern England", Journal of Agricultural Science, 107, 611-620
    DOI: 10.1017/S002185960006977X
  • Johnston, A.E. , Lane, P.W. , Mattingly, G.E.G. , Poulton, P.R. and Hewitt, M.V.(1986) "Effects of soil and fertilizer P on yields of potatoes, sugar beet, barley and winter wheat on a sandy clay loam soil at Saxmundham, Suffolk", Journal of Agricultural Science, 106, 155-167
    DOI: 10.1017/S0021859600061864
  • Goulding, K.W.T. , Poulton, P.R. , Thomas, V.H. and Williams, R.J.B.(1986) "Atmospheric deposition at Rothamsted experimental station, Saxmundham experimental station and Woburn experimental station, England, 1969-1984", Water Air and Soil Pollution, 29, 27-49
    DOI: 10.1007/bf00149327
  • Johnston, A.E. , Poulton, P.R. and Lane, P.(1986) "Modeling the long-term residual effects of phosphorus residues in soil", Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 37, 8-8
    DOI: 10.1002/jsfa.2740370103


  • Rothamsted(1984) "Guide to the Classical Field Experiments", , 32pp
    DOI: 10.23637/ERADOC-1-190
  • Goulding, K.W.T. and Talibudeen, O.(1984) "Thermodynamics of K-Ca exchange in soils. I. Effects of potassium and organic matter residues in soils from the Broadbalk and Saxmundham Rotation I Experiments.", Journal of Soil Science, 35, 397-408
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2389.1984.tb00296.x


  • Goulding, K.W.T. and Talibudeen, O.(1979) "Potassium reserves in a sandy clay soil from the Saxmundham Experiment: Kinetics and equilibrium thermodynamics", Journal of Soil Science, 30, 291-302
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2389.1979.tb00986.x





  • Williams, R.J.B.(1971) "The chemical compostion of water from land drains at Saxmundham and Woburn, and the influence of rainfall upon nutrient losses. ", , 36-67
    DOI: 10.23637/ERADOC-1-34800
  • Williams, R.J.B. and Cooke, G.W.(1971) "Results of the Rotation I experiment at Saxmundham,", Part 2 , 68-97
    Get from eRAdoc: ResReport1970p2-68-97


  • Mattingly, G.E.G. , Johnston, A.E. and Chater, M.(1970) "The residual value of farmyard manure and superphosphate in the Saxmundham Rotation II Experiment,", Part 2 , 91-112
    Get from eRAdoc: ResReport1969p2-91-112




  • Rothamsted(1966) "Details of the Classical and Long-Term Experiments up to 1962", , 87pp
    DOI: 10.23637/ERADOC-1-191
  • Boyd, D.A. and Trist, P.J.O.(1966) "The Saxmundham rotation experiments: Rotation II, 1899-1952", Journal of Agricultural Science, 66, 337-339
    DOI: 10.1017/S0021859600063632
  • Trist, P.J.O. and Boyd, D.A.(1966) "The Saxmundham rotation experiments. Rotation, I.", Journal of Agricultural Science, 66, 327-336
    DOI: 10.1017/S0021859600063620


  • Oldershaw, A.W.(1941) "Experiments on arable crops at Saxmundham", Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society, 102, 136-155
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