Data for: Development of an index for assessing the health of lowland drained agricultural peatland soils
Data was collected from a study area comprising fields under intensive agricultural and horticultural management in the East Anglian fens (52.3576° N, 0.2670° E). Samples collection was conducted in summer 2018 and winter 2020. Eight fields in were selected in 2018. Four sampling points for each field of 10 – 15 soil samples were taken using a soil corer in an 5m area surrounding the sampling point to a depth of 20cm and homogenised in-field using the cone and quarter method. Soil cores were collected to assess bulk density and mesofauna abundance. A separate pit at each location was excavated for analysis of earthworms and other soil invertebrates. Visual Evaluation of Soil Structure (VESS) was conducted on four undisturbed soil slices extracted at the four sampling points in each field. Soil samples r were divided into two. One sub-sample was air dried at <30 °C and sieved with a 2 mm screen. One sieved moist to 4 mm, stored at 4 °C. Soils were analysed for Water holding capacity, Microbial activity through Solvita Burst method, Ammonium and Nitrate concentrations using a Skalar Continuous Flow Analyser. The air-dried soils were analysed for pH, Organic matter, Extractable Phosphorus, Potassium and Magnesium, Particle size distribution, Particle, Cation exchange capacity was determined using the Compulsive Exchange method using differing molar strengths of Barium Chloride to displace cations. The extractants from the first Barium Chloride were analysed by ICP- OES analysis to examine Exchangeable Cations including; Calcium, Copper, Iron, Potassium, Magnesium, Nickle and Zinc.