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 of 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 Andrew Gregory
principal investigator
Rothamsted Research
Protecting Crops and the Environment
 
Dr Margaret Glendining
data manager
Rothamsted Research
Intelligent Data Ecosystems

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 Andrew Gregory
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 with four types of rotation. Each rotation had three years of 'treatment' crops followed by two years of arable 'test' crops. The rotations were: 3-year grass grass/clover ley (L), a 3-year lucerne (alfalfa) 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. The test crops were potatoes followed by spring barley. Sugar beet replaced potatoes in 1956. Sainfoin replaced lucerne in 1965.
Design description
40 pairs of main plots in 5 blocks, phased in over a 5 year period. Each block had four different three-year rotations, followed by two arable test crops: in four plots in each block the rotation was repeated every five years (continuous) and in four plots in each block the rotations alternated every five years, on a 20-year cycle of all four arable and ley-arable rotations. The main plots are in pairs, one of each pair received FYM (farmyard manure) applied every fifth year, to the first test crop, 1941-1967 (the split plots).
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
sugar beet
spring barley
winter wheat
winter rye
kale
one-year hay
carrots
oats
beans
lucerne (alfalfa)
sainfoin
Crop Rotations
Ar arable with roots  1938—1972
  • 1
    potatoes
    Treatment crop 1
  • 2
    winter wheat
    Treatment crop 2: replaced by winter rye 1949
  • 3
    sugar beet
    Treatment crop 3: (kale 1940-45) replaced by carrots 1956
  • 4
    potatoes
    Test crop 1: replaced by sugar beet 1956-67, barley 1968-1970, potatoes 1971-75
  • 5
    spring barley
    Test crop 2: replaced by winter wheat 1972
Ah arable with hay  1938—1972
  • 1
    potatoes
    Treatment crop 1
  • 2
    winter wheat
    Treatment crop 2: replaced by winter rye from 1949
  • 3
    one-year hay
    Treatment crop 3
  • 4
    potatoes
    Test crop 1; replaced by sugar beet 1956-67, barley 1968-1970, potatoes 1971-75
  • 5
    spring barley
    Test crop 2: replaced by winter wheat from 1972
L grass/cover ley  1938—1972
  • 1
    grass clover leys
    Treatment crop year 1: grazed by sheep until1968 then cut
  • 2
    grass clover leys
    Treatment crop year 2: grazed by sheep until1968 then cut
  • 3
    grass clover leys
    Treatment crop year 2: grazed by sheep until1968 then cut
  • 4
    potatoes
    Test crop 1: replaced by sugar beet 1956-67, barley 1968-1970, potatoes 1971-75
  • 5
    spring barley
    Test crop 2: replaced by winter wheat from 1972
Lu legume ley  1938—1972
  • 1
    lucerne (alfalfa)
    Treatment crop year 1; sainfoin replaced lucerne from 1964
  • 2
    lucerne (alfalfa)
    Treatment crop year 2; sainfoin replaced lucerne from 1964
  • 3
    lucerne (alfalfa)
    Treatment crop year 3; sainfoin replaced lucerne from 1964
  • 4
    potatoes
    Test crop 1: replaced by sugar beet 1956-67, barley 1968-1970, potatoes 1971-75
  • 5
    spring barley
    Test crop 2: replaced by winter wheat from 1972
Factor
Factor name
Factor levels
farmyard manure exposure
The main plots are in pairs, one of each pair received FYM (farmyard manure) applied every fifth year, to the first test crop, 1941-1967.
Measurements
VariableMaterialUnitsFrequencyScaleComment
test crop yieldAll cropst/haannualTest crop yields - potatoes, wheat, barley, sugar beet.
soil organic carbonSoil%every five yearsThe soil in each block was sampled regularly every five years from 1955, to coincide with the end of the third treatment year

Design period: Period 2 (1973—2007)

Design Type
Split 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.
Design description
40 pairs of main plots in 5 blocks, phased in over a 5 year period. Each block had four different three-year rotations, followed by two arable test crops: in four plots in each block the rotation was repeated every five years (continuous) and in four plots in each block the rotations alternated every five years, on a 20-year cycle of all four arable and ley-arable rotations. The main plots are in pairs, one of each pair received FYM (farmyard manure) applied every fifth year, to the first test crop, 1941-1967 (the split plots). The treatments were: AB (all arable rotation); AF (arable rotation with roots or fallow); LN3 (3-year grass ley with fertilizer N); LC3 (3-year legume or grass/clover ley). The alternating rotations were replaced by eight-year grass or grass/clover leys in the mid-1970s: LN8 (8-year grass leys with fertilizer N, followed by two arable test crops); LC8 (8-year grass/clover leys, followed by two arable test crops). The rotations are phased in over a five-year period in the five different blocks, so that each year of the five-year rotation is present each year. The eight-year leys were also phased in, the first cycle starting 1973-77, the second cycle 1978-82. The test crops had four N treatments (split-split plots).
Number of plots
8
Number of subplots
8
Number of replicates
5
Number of harvests per year
1
Crops
CropYears grown
wheat
spring barley
winter rye
potatoes
fallow
oats
winter beans
carrots
forage maize
grass clover leys
grass leys
red clover
Crop Rotations
AB/ABe (all arable rotation)  1973—2007
  • 1
    spring barley
    Treatment crop 1 (potatoes 1973-76); replaced by rye 1998
  • 2
    spring barley
    Treatment crop 2; replaced by forage maize 1999
  • 3
    oats
    Treatment crop 3 (one year hay 1973); replaced by beans 1981
  • 4
    wheat
    Test crop 1
  • 5
    spring barley
    Test crop 2; replaced by rye 1992
AF/AM (all arable rotation with fallow)  1973—2007
  • 1
    fallow
    Treatment crop 1 (potatoes 1973-76); replaced by rye 1998
  • 2
    fallow
    Treatment crop 2; replaced by winter beans 1999
  • 3
    oats
    Treatment crop 3 (spring barley 1973); replaced by beans 1981
  • 4
    wheat
    Test crop 1
  • 5
    spring barley
    Test crop 2; replaced by rye 1992
Ln3  1973—2007
  • 1
    grass leys
    Treatment crop 1: grass ley with fertilizer N
  • 2
    grass leys
    Treatment crop 2: grass ley with fertilizer N
  • 3
    grass leys
    Treatment crop 3; grass ley with fertilizer N
  • 4
    wheat
    Test crop 1
  • 5
    spring barley
    Test crop 2; replaced by rye 1992
Lc3  1973—2007
  • 1
    grass clover leys
    Treatment crop 1
  • 2
    grass clover leys
    Treatment crop 2
  • 3
    grass clover leys
    Treatment crop 3
  • 4
    wheat
    Test crop 1
  • 5
    spring barley
    Test crop 2: replaced by rye 1992
Lln8  1973—2007
  • 1
    grass leys
    Treatment crop 1; grass ley with fertilizer N
  • 2
    grass leys
    Treatment crop 2: grass ley with fertilizer N
  • 3
    grass leys
    Treatment crop 3: grass ley with fertilizer N
  • 4
    grass leys
    Treatment crop 4: grass ley with fertilizer N
  • 5
    grass leys
    Treatment crop 5: grass ley with fertilizer N
  • 6
    grass leys
    Treatment crop 6: grass ley with fertilizer N
  • 7
    grass leys
    Treatment crop 7: grass ley with fertilizer N
  • 8
    grass leys
    Treatment crop 8: grass ley with fertilizer N
  • 9
    wheat
    Test crop 1
  • 10
    spring barley
    Test crop 2: replaced by rye 1992
Llc8  1973—2007
  • 1
    grass clover leys
    Treatment crop 1
  • 2
    grass clover leys
    Treatment crop 2
  • 3
    grass clover leys
    Treatment crop 3
  • 4
    grass clover leys
    Treatment crop 4
  • 5
    grass clover leys
    Treatment crop 5
  • 6
    grass clover leys
    Treatment crop 6
  • 7
    grass clover leys
    Treatment crop 7
  • 8
    grass clover leys
    Treatment crop 8
  • 9
    wheat
    Test crop 1
  • 10
    spring barley
    Test crop 2: : replaced by rye 1992
Factors
Factor name
Factor levels
nitrogen fertilizer exposure
4 levels of N fertilizer applied to wheat and barley/rye test crops. Split-spilt plots
potassium fertilizer exposure
Corrective K applications to 1st test wheat. 4 levels.
split nitrogen fertilizer exposure
Split v single N applications to wheat test crop, tested 2001-2005, split plots. Applied to Farmyard manure residue split plots, last applied in 1960s.
residue of farmyard manure exposure
Farmyard manure residue, last applied 1966. Split-plots.
Measurements
VariableMaterialUnitsFrequencyScaleComment
Grain yieldwheatt/haannuallyGrain yields for test crops (wheat and spring barley)
soil organic carbonSoil%
total soil nitrogenSoil%

Design period: Period 3 (2008—)

Design Type
Split split plot
Description
Major changes to the experiment in 2006-2007. The 8-year leys were ended once both cycles had completed three 10-year rotations. 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.
Design description
40 main plots, divided over five blocks. Half the plots have been in four continuous five-year arable or ley-arable rotations since 1938: three years of treatment crops followed by two arable test crops. The other 20 plots were in alternating rotations from 1938 to the mid-1970s: a 20-year cycle of all four arable and ley-arable rotations. These were replaced by eight-year grass or grass/clover leys from the mid-1970s until 2007. From 2008 all plots were in five-year rotations of three years of treatment crops and two years of test crops.: AO (continuous arable with oats); ABe (continuous arable with beans); Ln3 (three-year grass leys with nitrogen); Lc3 (three-year grass/clover leys). In 2021 winter beans (BE) were replaced with winter barley (WB), and all arable rotations followed the same rotation, R, WB, O, W and R. Rotation ABe became AO in 2021, so there are now one arable rotation and two ley/arable rotations, with different histories.
Number of plots
8
Number of subplots
8
Number of replicates
5
Number of harvests per year
1
Crops
CropYears grown
winter wheat (W)
winter rye (R)
beans (BE)
winter oats (O)
winter barley (WB)
grass leys
grass clover leys
Crop Rotations
(ABe) ABe  2008—2020
  • 1
    winter rye (R)
    1st treatment crop
  • 2
    winter oats (O)
    2nd treatment crop; replaced by winter barley (WB) from 2021
  • 3
    beans (BE)
    3rd treatment crop; replaced by oats from 2021
  • 4
    winter wheat (W)
    1st test crop
  • 5
    winter rye (R)
    2nd test crop
(AM) AO  2008—2020
  • 1
    winter rye (R)
    1st treatment crop
  • 2
    beans (BE)
    2nd treatment crop; replaced by winter barley (WB) from 2021
  • 3
    winter oats (O)
    3rd treatment crop
  • 4
    winter wheat (W)
    1st test crop
  • 5
    winter rye (R)
    2nd test crop
Ln3  2008—
  • 1
    grass clover leys
    1st treatment crop
  • 2
    grass clover leys
    2nd treatment crop
  • 3
    grass clover leys
    3rd treatment crop
  • 4
    winter wheat (W)
    1st test crop
  • 5
    winter rye (R)
    2nd test crop
Lc3  2008—
  • 1
    grass clover leys
    1st treatment crop
  • 2
    grass clover leys
    2nd treatment crop
  • 3
    grass clover leys
    3rd treatment crop
  • 4
    winter wheat (W)
    1st test crop
  • 5
    winter rye (R)
    2nd test crop
AO  2021—
  • 1
    winter rye (R)
    1st treatment crop
  • 2
    winter barley (WB)
    2nd treatment crop
  • 3
    winter oats (O)
    3rd treatment crop
  • 4
    winter wheat (W)
    1st test crop
  • 5
    winter rye (R)
    2nd test crop
Factors
Factor name
Factor levels
nitrogen fertilizer exposure
4 rates of N fertilizer applied to test crops Split-spilt plots
Residue farmyard manure exposure,
Farmyard manure residues, last applied in 1960s, split plots. Used to test split N 2001-2005.
Measurements
VariableMaterialUnitsFrequencyScaleComment
grain yield traitwinter wheat (W)t/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