Rowden Plots

The Rowden plots at North Wyke were initially established by the Grassland Research Institute in 1982 as a 10-year experiment (Rowden Drainage Experiment) to compare drained and undrained swards in terms of the animal and herbage production and the economics of field drainage in an agricultural context.
Since 1993, the site has been used to host a suite of different experiments
Data Access Statement
Available to any researcher on request
Data license
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Data policy
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Rothamsted Research, North Wyke
experimental research station
Jane Hawkins
data manager
Rothamsted Resarch, North Wyke

Site: Rowden Plots

research station field
United Kingdom
Geographic location
50.779132, -3.91551
© OpenStreetMap contributors
140 Metres
Visits permitted?
The experiment was established in 1982 on old unimproved pasture (previously known as Rowden Moor) on poorly drained, sloping land (5-10%).
The paddocks were limed at the start of the Rowden Drainage Experiment at 5 t ha-1 to the reseeds in 1982, permanent pasture plots in 1983 and to all plots in 1986. The plots were limed again in August 2000 using ground limestone at 5 t ha-1 and from then on whenever required to maintain the soil at ~pH 6.5. Nitrogen fertilizer has been added over the years according to project regimes. Phosphorus and Potassium have been added in the spring every year, with K added to cut plots as required. The P and K was increased on grass/clover plots to 50 kg P and 100 kg K ha-1 yr-1 in 1989-91 but was reduced to 40 kg P and 80 kg K ha-1 yr-1 in 1992 due to the build-up of soil reserves.
Soil type
Soil description
The soil is predominantly a clayey non-calcareous pelostagnogley of the Hallsworth series overlying the clay shales of the Crackington Formation (Dystric Gleysol of the FAO classification) and is typical of much of the permanent grassland in the south-west of England
Soil properties
VariableDepthValue (range)UnitsRef yearEstimated?Baseline?
clay content 38 Percent
silt content 50 Percent
find sand content 11 Percent
course sand content 1 Percent
soil total carbon 3.7 Percent
total soil nitrogen 1.1 Percent
plant available phosphorous 7.5 milligram per kilogram
total soil phosphorous 540 milligram per kilogram
soil pH 5.3
Climatic type
temperate oceanic climate
Climate properties
VariableTime periodValue (range)Units
air temperature 1981 – 2010 (6.7 – 13.4) degree Celsius
sun hours 1981 – 2010 1471 total annual hours
precipitation 1981 – 2010 1053 millimeter
frost days 1981 – 2010 31.5 days

Design period: Rowden Drainage Experiment (1982—1993)

Each plot is hydrologically isolated from neighbouring plots by gravel filled ditches to 30 cm commonly known as French drains. Seven plots were mole-drained and fissured to 50 cm, and with pipe drains to 85 cm with permeable backfill. The plots are therefore divided into (a) undrained with a 30 cm depth impermeable clay horizon that prevents water from percolating downwards, and (b) drained plots constructed with regular pipe and mole drains to 85 cm depth.
Number of plots
CropYears grown
Factor name
Factor levels
nitrogen fertilizer exposure
Plot application: Whole plot
control exposure
No N
low N
variable N
Plot application: Whole plot