Highfield Conversion Experiment

Local identifier
R/CS/767
Years operational
2008—
Objective
To study the effects of changes in agricultural land use and management on crop production and soil physical, chemical and biological parameters, including soil organic matter and structure, soil fauna and microbial diversity; originally long-term grass (>100 years)
Description
In 2008 two plots (continuous grass and arable) within each block of the Highfield Ley-Arable experiment were split to establish grass, arable and bare-fallow treatments within each. Adjacent long-term bare-fallow areas were also included in the experiment. Soil samples are taken regularly and yields are taken annually. Many archived samples are available. It is the only site at Rothamsted available for studying the effects of converting long-term grass to arable and bare-fallow treatments on Soil Organic Carbon (SOC), fertility, soil resilience and recovery. The experiment has support from several groups within Rothamsted, providing a resource for multidisciplinary research, from analytical chemistry, soil physical structure, GHG emissions and nitrification potential, microbial and mesofauna community responses to management change. It is probably unique in that it examines soil resilience and restoration through plants.
Farm operation data?
Sample archive?
Samples available?
 
Data Access Statement
Available to any researcher on request
Data license
CC BY
Data policy
Yes (not online)
Organization
Rothamsted Research
research organisation
People

Site: Highfield

Type
research station field
Location
Harpenden
Hertfordshire
United Kingdom
Geographic location
51.804307, -0.36268
© OpenStreetMap contributors
Elevation
130 Metres
Visits permitted?
Yes
Visiting arrangements
By arrangement with Dr Andy Macdonald
History
Previously part of the Highfield Ley-Arable experiment. The site was originally permanent grassland. The bare fallow plots were started in 1959 and maintained by regular tilling. The arable plots were converted from grassland to continuous arable (wheat) in 1949.
Soil type
luvisol
Soil properties
VariableDepthValue (range)UnitsRef yearEstimated?Baseline?
soil total carbon0 – 10 Centimetres (0.97 – 5.39) Percent2008
total soil nitrogen0 – 10 Centimetres (0.097 – 0.454) Percent2008
soil organic carbon0 – 10 Centimetres (0.38 – 3.01) gram per cubic centimetre2008
Climatic type
temperate oceanic climate

Design period: (2008—)

Design Type
Randomized complete block design
Design description
In October 2008, 10 × 6 m areas within the existing bare fallow, arable and grassland plots on the Highfield/Geescroft site of Rothamsted farm were converted to one of the alternative treatments. Plots were subdivided in a randomized block design to provide three plots for each permanent and conversion treatment. All plots except those remaining as permanent grassland were ploughed (standard depth, 23 cm)
Number of blocks
3
Number of plots
27
Number of harvests per year
1
Crops
CropYears grown
fallow
grass
wheat
Factor
cropping system
Plot application: Sub plot
permanent grass
permanent grass converted to arable
permanent grass converted to bare fallow
arable converted to grass
continuous arable
arable converted to bare fallow
bare fallow converted to grass
bare fallow converted to arable
continuous bare fallow

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