Highfield Bare Fallow

Local identifier
Years operational
The effect of continuous bare fallow.
In 1959 an area of permanent grass (since 1838, Lawes & Gilbert, 1885) adjacent to the Highfield Ley-Arable experiment at Rothamsted was ploughed, and has not grown a crop since. This is the Highfield Bare Fallow. Soil organic carbon (SOC) is measured periodically, and this has declined substantially since the area was first ploughed out of grass. Archived soil samples are available.
Data Access Statement
Available to any researcher on request
Data license
Data URL
Data policy
Yes (not online)
Rothamsted Research
research organisation
Dr Andy Gregory
principal investigator
Rothamsted Research
Sustainable Agricultural Systems
Dr Sarah Perryman
data manager
Rothamsted Research
Computational and Analytical Sciences

Site: Highfield

research station field
United Kingdom
Geographic location
51.804108, -0.361341
© OpenStreetMap contributors
Visits permitted?
Visiting arrangements
By arrangement with Dr Andy Gregory, LTE Manager
Permanent grass since 1838 (Lawes & Gilbert, 1885) adjacent to the Highfield Ley-Arable experiment at Rothamsted.
Since 1959 the experiment is kept free of weeds by frequent cultivation, but herbicides are used occasionally, so inputs of carbon to the soil are negligible. The experiment is on a trapezoidal area of approximately 900 m2.
Soil type
Soil properties
VariableDepthValue (range)UnitsRef yearEstimated?Baseline?
sand content0 – 18 Centimetres15 Percent1945
silt content0 – 18 Centimetres59 Percent1945
clay content0 – 18 Centimetres26 Percent1945
soil pH0 – 18 Centimetres4.8 1945
Climatic type
temperate oceanic climate

Design period: (1959—)

CropYears grown

Related publications

  • Gregory A.S. et al., (2016) European Joural of Soil Science. 67, 421-430
  • Barré, P., Eglin, T., Christensen, B. T., Ciais, P., Houot, S., Kätterer, T., van Oort, F., Peylin, P., Poulton, P. R., Romanenkov, V., and Chenu, C.: Quantifying and isolating stable soil organic carbon using long-term bare fallow experiments, Biogeosciences, 7, 3839–3850
  • Johnston, A. E. , Poulton, P. R. and Coleman, K. (2009) "Soil organic matter: its importance in sustainable agriculture and carbon dioxide fluxes", Advances in Agronomy, 101, 1-57
  • Hirsch, P. R. , Gilliam, L. M. , Sohi, S. P. , Williams, J. K. , Clark, I. M. and Murray, P. J. (2009) "Starving the soil of plant inputs for 50 years reduces abundance but not diversity of soil bacterial communities", Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 41, 2021-2024
  • Avery, B. W. and Catt, J. A. 1995. The soil at Rothamsted. Lawes Agricultural Trust, (LAT) Harpenden.