New access plan to improve visitor experience and help protect valuable experiments

  • 08
  • JUN
  • 2021

The Rothamsted Estate is private land owned by the Lawes Agricultural Trust and managed by Rothamsted Research - both charitable trusts dedicated to the furtherance of agricultural scientific research.

We welcome visitors onto public areas of the Estate but ask that they:

  • comply with our rules intended for the health and safety of them and others, and
  • always respect that the estate’s purpose is science and innovation.

Our research involves experimental fields (involving a wide range of treatments such as agrochemicals), some of which date back to the origins of Rothamsted in 1843 and are known world-wide as uniquely valuable resources (including the world’s longest continuously running scientific experiment).

Since the first lockdown commenced in March 2020, there has been a five-fold increase in the number of visitors to our Estate. As charitable trusts this has put a significant strain on our resources and ability to undertake our work safely and effectively. Whilst the majority of visitors behave responsibly, there have been serious incidences of:

  • trampling on experimental fields and their margins,
  • people walking through experiments and/or letting their dogs roam freely throughout them,
  • people accessing places (often with their children and dogs) where they may be at risk from farm machinery and other traffic, and
  • aggressive and antisocial behaviour such as lighting fires and abusive behaviour towards our staff and students.

We have therefore had to take actions to safeguard the Estate, our staff, and visitors to it. Whilst these are protective, we have also tried to offer compromise wherever possible and improve the experience of visitors whilst on the site.

These actions have cost Rothamsted significant sums of money but are viewed as an important investment in securing our experiments whilst building on our commitment to permit safe and responsible community access.

Improving Accessibility

  • Public rights of way more clearly demarked from areas which are hazardous / scientifically sensitive.
  • Clearly fenced some footpaths to give clear access away from trial sites. Creation of a new pedestrian footpath to allow safe access along bridleway between Broadbalk and Pastures (see below).
  • Provided two walking trails with free information booklets for visitors.
  • Installed information boards to communicate and educate the public about our science.
  • Installed new footpath signs at all entry points to the estate and major junctions.

Map of the Rothamsted Estate with field names and footpaths

Map of the Rothamsted Estate (below) showing field names and footpaths [download as pdf].  

Safety For All Users

  • Installed a new footpath to enable pedestrians to safely walk alongside the single-track road/ bridlepath between Broadbalk and Pastures, reducing the risk from farm machinery and other vehicles.
  • Perimeter fencing installed around Knott Wood (to allow the bluebells in the area that has been heavily trampled to recover) and commissioned tree surveys to identify trees / limbs that pose a risk to the public and that must be dealt with to ensure visitor safety. Once protective measures and regrowth have been completed, we intend to reopen Knott Wood during bluebell season – hopefully from 2022.
  • Ensured all farm gates that are required to limit access to restricted areas of the estate are locked periodically

Actions Taken To Protect Our Staff

  • Several instances of aggressive behaviour to staff have been brought to our attention and a number of these have been reported to the police.
  • Our staff have been issued with personal alarms and farm vehicles have had dashcams installed.
  • Training and counselling on lone working and diffusing situations has been provided for all affected Rothamsted staff.

Rothamsted is a world-renowned first-class research Institute, supported by UKRI-BBSRC. We’re proud of the work that we do and the agricultural solutions we help develop, and whilst we’re very happy for the public to visit our site and gain an understanding of our work we ask that you please respect and help us protect our Estate that we may continue to provide for the future.

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.