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Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Rotovate to control grass Shrubland and Heathland Conservation

Key messages

Read our guidance on Key messages before continuing

  • One replicated, controlled study in the UK found that rotovating did not alter the presence of heather compared to mowing or cutting. The same study found that wavy hair grass presence was not altered by rotovating, relative to areas that were mown or cut.

Supporting evidence from individual studies


A replicated, controlled study in 1996–1998 in a heathland invaded by wavy hair-grass Deschampsia flexuosa in Breckland, UK (1) found that rotovating did not decrease the presence of wavy-hair grass or increase the presence of heather Calluna vulgaris relative to mowing or cutting turf. After two years, wavy hair-grass presence in plots that had been rotovated (99% of plots) was not significantly different to presence in mown plots (100% of plots) or plots where turf had been cut (98% of plots). After two years, heather presence did not differ significantly between plots that had been rotovated (10% of plots) and those that had been mown (5% of plots) or where turf was cut (24% of plots). In August 1996 a number of 0.5 ha areas were rotovated, grass was cut to a height of 10 cm or less in a number of 1-2 ha blocks, and in five 4 m2 areas turf and soil were removed to a depth of 10 cm. Five 4 m2 plots were established in each of the areas subject to different interventions. Each plot was divided into a grid of 20 cm x 20 cm squares and presence of species was recorded in each square twice a year in 1996–1998.

Referenced papers

Please cite as:

Martin P.A., Rocha R., Smith R.K. & Sutherland W.J. (2019) Shrubland and Heathland Conservation. Pages 493-538 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, N. Ockendon, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2019. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.