Woburn Erosion Reference Experiment

Local identifier
W/RN/20
Years operational
1988—1998
Objective
To assess the effects of minimal tillage and contour cultivation on soil erosion, surface runoff, soil loss and crop yield on a sandy soil at Woburn, England
Description
Eight plots situated on a slope of about 5 degrees, (7-13%), each separated by a grass bank. The eroded soil and runoff were collected in tanks at the end of each plot after recent erosion. Four plots were cultivated and drilled parallel to the contour, and four up and down the slope. All plots grew the same crops each year, in a rotation typical of the sand soil of Bedfordshire. Four plots received standard cultivation and four minimal tillage.
Data Access Statement
Available online with registration
Data license
CC BY
Data policy
Yes (not online)
Organization
Rothamsted Research
experimental research station
People
Dr Margaret Glendining
data manager
Rothamsted Research
West Common, Harpenden, Hertfordshire, AL5 2JQ, United Kingdom
Dr Andrew Gregory
principal investigator
Rothamsted Research
Rothamsted Long-Term Experiments – National Bioscience Research Infrastructure

Site: Woburn Erosion Reference Experiment

Type
research station field
Local code
W/RN/20
Location
Great Hill II/III, Woburn Experimental Farm, Husborne Crawley
Bedfordshire
UK
Geographic location
52.013584, -0.602016
© OpenStreetMap contributors
Slope
Visits permitted?
No
Visiting arrangements
None
History
Arable field, subject to periodic erosion since at least 1950 (Catt, 1996). Field site managed as an experimental farm since 1875. The two blocks had slightly different cropping histories before the experiment began (see Quinton et al, 2006, Table 2).
Management
Conventional management for non-treatment factors.
Soil type
arenosol
Soil description
Derived from Lower Greensand, ranging in texture from loamy sand to sandy loam, corresponding to the Cottenham and Lowlands series, defined by Claydon and Hollis (1984). In the US Soil Taxonomy (Soil Survey Staff 1999) these correspond to Lamellic Ustipsamment and Udic Haplustept respectively. Classified as Lamellic Arenosol and Fluvic Cambisol in the FAO system (FAO, 1998).
Soil properties
VariableDepthValue (range)UnitsRef yearEstimated?Baseline?
Coarse sand content 1.7 %
Medium sand content 44.9 %
Fine sand content 36.3 %
Silt content 9.7 %
Clay content 5.9 %
Climatic type
temperate oceanic climate
Climate properties
VariableTime periodValue (range)Units
precipitation 1981 – 2010 652 (460.5 – 870.3) mm
air temperature 1981 – 2010 9.9 (8.7 – 10.9) degree Celsius

Design period: Main period (1988—1998)

Description
Eight plots approximately 24 x 36m (0.086 ha), bounded by grassed earth bunds 1m wide and 30cm high. The bunds prevent runoff and eroded soil from leaving the plot sides, so that they are conducted towards collector tanks at the foot of each plot.
Design description
2x2 factorial, two blocks. Two directions of cultivation (cultivated and drilled parallel to the contour v up and down the slope). Two types of cultivation (standard cultivation, residue removed v minimal tillage, residues retained). The two blocks had slightly different cropping histories before the experiment began. Standard cultivation was by moldboard plough to approximately 25cm depth. Minimal tillage was by shallow tines or discs to 10cm depth.
Number of plots
8
Number of replicates
2
Number of harvests per year
1
Crops
CropYears grown
spring barley
potatoes
winter wheat
winter barley
sugar beet
fodder beet
fallow
Factors
Factor name
Factor levels
Cultivation direction
Two cultivation directions.
U: up and down the slope
1988—1998
Application frequency: Annual
A: across the slope
1988—1998
Application frequency: Annual
Tillage type
Two types of tillage.
M: minimum tillage, cereal straw and potato and beet tops retained, partially incorporated, cultivated to 10cm deep.
1988—1998
Application frequency: Annual
S: standard practice, cereal straw baled and removed, potato and beet tops raked and removed. Mouldboard ploughed .
1988—1998
Application frequency: Annual
Measurements
VariableMaterialUnitsFrequencyScaleComment
yield traitAll cropst/haAnnual
water flow from plotNot specifiedWater and soil flowing from each plot were chanelled to a collecting trough and through a pipe to two 2000litre storage tanks were they were stored until sampled. The amounts of runoff and soil loss from each plot were measured as soon after each runoff event as practically possible and usually within 48 hours.
soil loss from each plotNot specifiedkg/haWater and soil flowing from each plot were chanelled to a collecting trough and through a pipe to two 2000litre storage tanks were they were stored until sampled. The amounts of runoff and soil loss from each plot were measured as soon after each runoff event as practically possible and usually within 48 hours.
total soil phosphorousNot specifiedkgP/haTotal P in sediment sampled determined by ICP after aqua regia digest.
MRPNot specifiedMolybdate reactive P (MRP) in drainwater and runoff was determined following the method of Murphy and Riley (1962) following filtration using an Alpkem segmented flow colorimetic analyser.
total soil nitrogenNot specifiedkgN/hatotal nitrogen lost in sediment
total soil potassiumSoilkgK/hatotal potassium lost in sediment
soil total carbonSoil%changes in soil carbon content in soil and soil carbon lost in sediment

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