Long-term experiments continue to inform agricultural science, to guide the future of farming and food production, all issues for a new conference in May at Rothamsted.

  • 05
  • JAN
  • 2018

Modern farming owes much to long-standing research that continues to pump out results and to provide valuable perspectives to guide the future of agricultural science, achievements that will be celebrated at a three-day international conference in May.

The Future of Long-Term Experiments in Agricultural Science, from 21-23 May, is being organised by Rothamsted Research at the Rothamsted Conference Centre to mark the 175th anniversary of the start of scientific investigations on the site.

The Call for Papers deadline is 28 February, and details about presenting, flash talking, exhibiting, sponsorship and registration are available here.

Broadbalk Field Credit: Rothamsted Research Broadbalk field, at Rothamsted, where long-term experiments began in 1843, and continue today

“We are uniquely positioned to assess the continuing value of long-term experiments,” says Keith Goulding, Conference Chair and Rothamsted’s Sustainable Soils Research Fellow. “We will identify the new questions that need to be asked and how best to go about answering them.”

“Like Rothamsted, the conference will be forward-looking,” says Achim Dobermann, the institute’s Director and Chief Executive. “We will focus on how these experiments can contribute to the sustainable intensification of agriculture in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.”

Worldwide, many organisations have established long-term experiments or other long-term research platforms and followed a tradition that started when the first long-term trials, now classical experiments, began in 1843 at Rothamsted on the institute’s Broadbalk field.

Rothamsted subsequently began other long-term experiments at the site, and they continue today. The institute also established an archive of grain, grass, fertiliser, manure and soil samples for all these experiments from the very beginning of the first one on Broadbalk.

Samples Archive Credit: Rothamsted ResearchRothamsted's sample archive, from 1843, includes grain, grasses and soil

Besides scientific presentations and debates, the conference will include live streaming, flash talks and speed-dating opportunities. There will also be visits to the long-term experiments and the samples archive, and other activities.

Planned sessions include the unique contributions of LTEs to agricultural science; new designs, methods and tools for LTEs; the mathematics and statistics of LTEs, including mathematical modelling and databases; and the progress and future viability of the Global Long-Term Experiments Network (GLTEN).

About Rothamsted Research
Rothamsted Research is the longest-running agricultural research institute in the world. We work from gene to field with a proud history of ground-breaking discoveries, from crop treatment to crop protection, from statistical interpretation to soils management. Our founders, in 1843, were the pioneers of modern agriculture, and we are known for our imaginative science and our collaborative influence on fresh thinking and farming practices.
Through independent science and innovation, we make significant contributions to improving agri-food systems in the UK and internationally. In terms of the institute’s economic contribution, the cumulative impact of our work in the UK was calculated to exceed £3000 million a year in 20151. Our strength lies in our systems approach, which combines science and strategic research, interdisciplinary teams and partnerships.
Rothamsted is also home to three unique resources. These National Capabilities are open to researchers from all over the world: The Long-Term Experiments, Rothamsted Insect Survey and the North Wyke Farm Platform.
We are strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), with additional support from other national and international funding streams, and from industry. We are also supported by the Lawes Agricultural Trust (LAT).
For more information, visit; Twitter @Rothamsted
1Rothamsted Research and the Value of Excellence: A synthesis of the available evidence, by Séan Rickard (Oct 2015)

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.
BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.
Funded by government, BBSRC invested £469 million in world-class bioscience in 2016-17. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.
More information about BBSRC, our science and our impact.
More information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes

About LAT
The Lawes Agricultural Trust, established in 1889 by Sir John Bennet Lawes, supports Rothamsted Research’s national and international agricultural science through the provision of land, facilities and funding. LAT, a charitable trust, owns the estates at Harpenden and Broom's Barn, including many of the buildings used by Rothamsted Research. LAT provides an annual research grant to the Director, accommodation for nearly 200 people, and support for fellowships for young scientists from developing countries. LAT also makes capital grants to help modernise facilities at Rothamsted, or invests in new buildings.