Woburn Ley Arable

Local identifier
W/RN/3
Years operational
1938—
Objective
Effects of continuous arable and ley-arable cropping on crop production, soil organic matter dynamics and fertility in a sandy loam.
Description
Started in 1938 to compare the effects of rotations with or without grass or grass-clover leys on the yield of two arable test crops. It is now an important resource for investigation long-term changes in SOM due to different cropping systems. Five year rotation of three years in arable crops or leys (short-term grassland) followed by two years of arable test crops. Total of 40 pairs of plots divided into 5 blocks, phased-in over a five-year period, so the each year of the rotation is present each year.
Data Access Statement
Available to any researcher on request
Data Access Notes
Contact the e-RA curators: era@rothamsted.ac.uk
Data license
CC BY
Data policy
Yes (not online)
Organizations
Rothamsted Research
research organisation
Woburn Experimental Farm
experimental research station
People
Dr Andy Macdonald
principal investigator
Rothamsted Research
Sustainable Agricultural Science
Dr Margaret Glendining
data manager
Rothamsted Research
Computational and Analytical Sciences

Site: Stackyard

Type
research station field
Local code
W/RN/3
Location
Woburn
Bedfordshire
United Kingdom
Geographic location
51.99906, -0.61673
© OpenStreetMap contributors
Elevation
99 Metres
Slope
Visits permitted?
Yes
Visiting arrangements
Contact Dr Andy Macdonald
History
The experiment started in 1938 on a site that had grown arable crops since at least 1876 and had 0.98% SOC in the topsoil.
Management
Conventional management, ploughed. There is no irrigation.
Soil description
Sandy loam with 11-16% clay, Cambric Arenosol (FAO, 1990).
Climatic type
temperate oceanic climate
Climate properties
VariableTime periodValue (range)Units
Annual total precipitation 1981 – 2010 652 (460.5 – 870.4) mm

Design period: Period 1 (1938—1972)

Design Type
Split-plot
Description
40 pairs of main plots in 5 blocks, phased in over a 5 year period. On half of the plots there were four 'Continuous' rotations: 3-year grass grass/clover ley (L), a 3-year lucerne ley (Lu), a 3-year arable rotation which included a 1-yr hay crop (Ah) and a 3-year arable rotation which included root crops (Ar). The effect of these four 'treatments' was compared on the yield of two arable 'test' crops. On the other plots the ley and arable 'treatment' crops alternated (called the Alternating rotations). A test of FYM applied to the first test crop was also included on one of each pair of main plots, 1938-1966. The test crops were potatoes followed by spring barley. Sugar beet replaced potatoes in 1956. Sainfoin replaced lucerne in 1965.
Number of plots
8
Number of subplots
2
Number of replicates
5
Number of harvests per year
1
Crops
CropYears grown
grass clover leys
grass leys
potatoes
sugarbeet
alfalfa
spring barley
Crop Rotation
Unnamed
  • 1
    -

Design period: Period 2 (1973—2006)

Design Type
Split-plot
Description
Major changes made to the experiment in 1973-78. Grazed leys were replaced with cut grass or grass/clover leys. The Alternating rotations were stopped and two cycles of 8-year leys followed by the 2-yr test crops were introduced, the first cycle started in 1973, the second in 1978.
Number of plots
8
Number of subplots
2
Number of replicates
5
Number of harvests per year
1
Crops
CropYears grown
wheat
spring barley
winter rye
Crop Rotation
Unnamed
  • 1
    -
Measurements
VariableMaterialUnitsFrequencyScaleComment
Grain yieldwheatt/haannuallyGrain yields for test crops (wheat and spring barley)
soil organic carbonSoil%
total soil nitrogenSoil%

Design period: Period 3 (2007—2020)

Description
Major changes to the experiment in 2006/7. The 8-year leys were ended once both cycles had completed three 10-year rotations. Thus in 2008 plots previously in the 1st cycle of 8-year leys started to follow the same rotations as the two continuous arable rotation, whilst those in the second cycle went into a 3-year grass +N or 3-year grass/clover rotation, i.e. the same four rotations as the 'continuous' plots but with more SOM.
Number of plots
8
Number of subplots
2
Number of replicates
5
Number of harvests per year
1
Crops
CropYears grown
winter wheat
winter rye
Measurements
VariableMaterialUnitsFrequencyScaleComment
grain yield traitwinter wheatt/haannuallygrain yield for test crops (winter wheat and winter rye)
soil organic carbonSoil%
total soil nitrogenSoil%

Related publications

  • Changes in soil organic matter over 70 years in continuous arable and ley-arable rotations on a sandy loam soil in England