Rothamsted is located about 35 km North of London, UK (51° 48’ 34.44” N, 0° 21’ 22.76” W). It covers about 330 ha, all of which is included within the Rothamsted ECN site. The estate contains several ecosystems, including managed arable and grassland fields, naturally regenerated and ancient woodland, the river Ver and more recently energy crops e.g. short rotation coppice willow and miscanthus grass. It is a rural area within an urban landscape, surrounded by the town of Harpenden to three sides and the village of Redbourn on the south-west side. The larger conurbations of Luton, St. Albans and Hemel Hempstead, together with the M1 motorway and London Luton Airport, are within an eight mile radius. The Park Grass Hay Experiment (est. 1856) is the principal target sample site (TSS) for the majority of the ECN protocols at Rothamsted (Table 1). This experiment is widely acknowledged to be the oldest continuing agro-ecological experiment in the world; it is recognised internationally as an important site for long-term studies on biodiversity and ecology. The experimental plot on Park Grass of most interest to the ECN, in relation to physical and atmopsheric inputs is Plot 3, Section d (Plot 3d). This plot receives no inorganic or organic inputs apart from atmospheric deposition.
A recent study of ecosystem services, based on the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment of 2005, covering eleven of the twelve ECN terrestrial sites, showed that Rothamsted, a lowland agricultural site, is more akin to the woodland sites of Alice Holt and Wytham (Dick et al, 2011). This is primarily due to its cultural benefits with numerous footpaths/bridleways crossing the estate. The tranquillity of the rural landscape at Rothamsted, which includes fields and woodland with a variety of flowers during spring and summer together with arable crops and a 17th Century Manor House, draws people from the local area to walk, run, cycle and horse ride. Rothamsted encourages such interaction with the local community, especially schools, through its knowledge exchange and public engagement activities. These include mini-beast safaris, fungi foraging and open weekends.
Routine measurements are carried out at ECN Rothamsted, ECN North Wyke and the other 9 terrestrial sites. The physical, atmospheric and biological measurements made at all sites adhere to a suite of clearly defined published analytical protocols. The resulting datasets which are comparable across sites can be accessed through the ECN data centre. Additional datasets unique to Rothamsted can be obtained through the electronic Rothamsted Archive
Changes in climate (e.g. temperature and rainfall) along with the deposition of major ions (wet and dry deposition) can affect the behaviour of soils and therefore plants.
The River Ver flows for 12 miles from its source in the Chiltern Hills at Kensworth Lynch, Bedfordshire, to its confluence with the River Colne near to Bricket Wood, Hertfordshire.
Atmospheric pollutants, deposited through wet or dry deposition, whether anthropogenic or natural, may have detrimental effects on ecosystems including microorganisms, plants, animals and humans.