Study

Restoration of species-rich grassland on arable land: assessing the limiting processes using a multi-site experiment

  • Published source details Pywell R.F., Bullock J.M., Hopkins A., Walker K.J., Sparks T.H., Burke M.J.W. & Peel S. (2002) Restoration of species-rich grassland on arable land: assessing the limiting processes using a multi-site experiment. Journal of Applied Ecology, 39, 294-309.

Actions

This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Sow native grass and forbs

Action Link
Grassland Conservation

Restore/create species-rich, semi-natural grassland

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Sow native grass and forbs

    A replicated, randomized, paired, controlled study in 1994–1998 in five arable fields in the UK (Pywell et al. 2002) found that disturbing soil and sowing grass and forb seeds increased plant species richness in most cases and increased the plant community similarity to that of target habitats. In five of eight comparisons, plant species richness was higher in areas where seeds were sown (16.2–26.4 species/plot) than in areas where seeds were not sown (10.4–18.7 species/plot). However, in three of eight comparisons, plant species richness was lower (seeded: 10.8–14.0 species/plot; unseeded: 10.4–18.7 species/plot). Similarity to target communities was higher in areas that were seeded than in areas that were not seeded (data presented as similarity index). In September 1994, in five sites, four blocks containing five 6 × 4 m plots were established. In each block, the soil of four plots was disturbed using harrows or ploughs and sown with seeds of between six and forty-one plant species. One plot was not disturbed or sown with seeds. Vegetation was cut and removed each year in June or July, and sheep grazed between October and December at a density of 25–40 sheep/ha for six to eight weeks. Vegetation was surveyed in June of each year using three randomly placed 40 x 40 cm quadrats within each plot.

    (Summarised by: Philip Martin)

  2. Restore/create species-rich, semi-natural grassland

    A randomized, replicated study in 1994-1998 in arable fields in five lowland areas in the UK (Pywell et al. 2002) found that ploughing to 30-40 cm depth and sowing with a species-rich seed mixture created a community similar to the target community on neutral soils. This was significantly more successful than natural regeneration or sowing with a species-poor mix. Sites on acidic or calcareous soils were less similar to their specific target communities. Sowing a nurse crop had no beneficial effects. All treatments reduced nutrient levels. The five sites had four replicate blocks each containing seven experimental plots with different treatments. Vegetation was cut and removed each year in June or July, and sheep were grazed between October and December at 25-40 sheep/ha for six to eight weeks. Vegetation sampling used three 40 x 40 cm quadrats randomly placed within each plot in June each year. Nutrient sampling used ten soil samples per plot in September 1994 and 1998.

     

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