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Visit to North Wyke Research station (IA Section)

Tue. 19 March 2024 at 2:00 pm

£3 – £5

Agriculture is the largest industry in Devon, and it has changed rapidly over the past few years.  We felt it important to explore the history and changes through a series of field visits and talks.

Agriculture Industry: Event Three

A visit to North Wyke Research station,  part of Rothamsted Research, a world leading agricultural research organisation. 

Talk by Dr Jane Hawkins upon the history of Rothampsted in Harpenden, the John Lawes Trust and invention of Superphosphate fertilizers and of North Wyke Research.  We shall also inspect some of the trial plots.  Gum Boots or stout shoes recommended.

Lunch can be taken beforehand at 12.30 at New Inn, Sampford Courtenay.

DA members £3, non-members £5.  Book please in advance with the Organiser who will provide full details. State if you want lunch so we can warn the pub.

See also: Event One: Visits to two dairy farms (27/9/23), and Event Two: “Cattle Then and Now” (9/10/23).

Additional notes on Rothamsted and North Wyke.

Rothamsted is the oldest agricultural scientific research station in the world.

It was started in 1839 by John Bennet Lawes and financed with the profits of the Lawes Patent Manures fertilizer manufacturing factory he had established in Deptford. At that time, very little was understood about plant growth and nutrition, and superphosphate produced from chemically treated bones was almost the only manufactured fertiliser known. The Classical Experiments on plant nutrition and fertilisers started in 1843, and still continue on the same fields in Harpenden today; the Barnfield and the Broadbalk fields.

To devise these experiments, Dr Henry Gilbert was appointed. From 1890, a whole new area of statistical analysis of results was developed by R. A. Fisher and F. Yates and J. Nielder. These techniques are still used today for agricultural and medical research. To analyse the results, long before the invention of electronic computers, a calculating machine called the Millionaire was acquired and can still be seen there.

Rothamsted is still a major centre for academic research into statistical methods of analysis of results from living organisms.

A  grassland Research Centre was set up by Fisons, the fertilizer manufacturers, at North Wyke in 1955 and this now operates as part of Rothamsted Research, operating and comparing the output of four 200-acre livestock farms, probably the most highly instrumented farms in the country.


Tue. 19 March 2024
2:00 pm
£3 – £5
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Industrial Archaeology Section (Bill Nichols)
01392 860695