Broadbalk Wilderness

Local identifier
R/BK/1
Years operational
1882—
Objective
To see the effects on the soil and vegetation of abandoning arable cropping
Description
Part of the Broadbalk wheat experiment was fenced off and allowed to naturally revert to woodland in 1882. In 1900 it was divided into two halves, one remained as regenerating woodland, in the other half all woody species were removed ('stubbed') each year, to allow open ground vegetation to develop. In 1957 the stubbed section was divided into two, one half remained stubbed, the other was mown for three years, then grazed by sheep from 1960-2000, and since 2001 has been mown each year (herbage is not removed).
Farm operation data?
Sample archive?
Samples available?
 
Data Access Statement
Available online with registration
Data license
CC BY
Data policy
Yes (not online)
Organization
Rothamsted Research
research organisation
People
Dr Andy Macdonald
experiment manager
Rothamsted Research
SAS
Dr Margaret Glendining
data manager
Rothamsted Research
CAS
Dr Sarah Perryman
data manager
Rothamsted Research
CAS

Site: Broadbalk Wilderness

Type
research station field
Local code
R/BK/1
Location
Harpenden
Hertfordshire
UK
Geographic location
51.809835, -0.375295
© OpenStreetMap contributors
Elevation
128 Metres
Visits permitted?
Yes
Visiting arrangements
Contact Andy Macdonald
History
The site was part of the Broadbalk wheat experiment, and had grown unmanured winter wheat since autumn 1843. Large amounts of chalk had been applied to the soil in the late 18th - early 19th centuries, and the surface soil pH is still neutral. In 1882 the site was fenced off and all cropping abandoned. In 1900 it was divided into two halves: one half remained untouched (regenerating woodland). The other half had all woody species removed annually (stubbed), to allow open ground vegetation to develop. In 1957 the stubbed section was divided into two, one half remains as 'stubbed', the other half was mown for three years, grazed by sheep each year from 1960-2000, mown since 2001 (herbage not removed).
Management
In 1900 it was divided into two halves: one half remained untouched (regenerating woodland). The other half had all woody species removed annually (stubbed), to allow open ground vegetation to develop. In 1957 the stubbed section was divided into two, one half remains as 'stubbed', the other half was mown for three years, grazed by sheep each year from 1960-2000, mown since 2001 (herbage not removed). No fertilizer or manure is applied.
Soil type
Chromic luvisol
Soil description
Silty clay loam surface overlying clay-with-flints, over chalk at a depth of several metres.
Soil properties
VariableDepthValue (range)UnitsRef yearEstimated?Baseline?
soil pH0 – 23 Centimetres7.7 1999
clay content0 – 23 Centimetres (20 – 25) %

Design period: Broadbalk Wilderness (1882—)

Design Type
Demonstration strip design
Description
Small site (0.2ha). One half is naturally regenerating woodland. The other half is divided into two, one half is mown each year, the other is 'stubbed' (all woody plants are removed).
Number of plots
3
Number of replicates
1
Crops
CropYears grown

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