Effects of soil acidity on soil properties under winter wheat
This a narrow strip of land at the northern edge of Hoosfield, Rothamsted with a soil pH ranging from 3.7 to 7.8 (at 0-23cm depth) due to uneven applications of chalk in the 19th Century. Spring barley was grown continuously for over 100 years. It is now sown to winter wheat each year, given only 100 kg N ha-1.The wheat starts to die out about half way along the plot, when the pH is below 5.5. This area has been used to study the relationship between soil pH, and microbial ecology and nutrient dynamics.
The acid strip is sited at the northern end of Hoosfield, Rothamsted . It been under arable management since before the 19th century. It had uneven applications of chalk in the 19th century at which time chalk was dug from 'bell-pits' on neighboring slopes and spread by hand to improve the fertility and workability of the originally acid soils. Spring barley was grown continuously for over 100 years. It is now sown to winter wheat each year. The acid strip has not received any amendment including chemical or organic fertilizer since then. By the 1950's, reserves of CaCO3 remaining from earlier applications had become exhausted by leaching, especially at further distances from the chalk pits. Here the soil became acidic. It is now sown to winter wheat each year and the wheat starts to die out about half way along the plot, when the pH is below 5.5.
100 kg N ha-1 applied per year.
FAO Classification: chromic luvisol
Soil survey of England & Wales soil series: Batcombe-Carstens mix with sandier inclusions
Chromic luvisols soils were originally acidic, well-drained to moderately well-drained and developed in a relatively silty (loess-containing) superficial deposit overlaying, and mixed with, clay-with-flints. The topsoil is a flinty, silty clay loam (18–27% clay).
(3.7 – 8.3)
Design period: Whole period (1850—)
One strip (>200m) alongside the north end of Hoosfield Barley long-term field experiment
Small amounts of chalk applied in 19th century
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Rousk, J. , Brookes, P. C. and Baath, E. (2009) "Contrasting Soil pH Effects on Fungal and Bacterial Growth Suggest Functional Redundancy in Carbon Mineralization", Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 75, 1589-1596