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Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Cut bracken and rotovate Shrubland and Heathland Conservation

Key messages

Read our guidance on Key messages before continuing

  • One controlled study in the UK found that cutting followed by rotovating to control bracken did not increase total plant biomass or biomass of heather.

Supporting evidence from individual studies


A randomized, controlled trial in 1978–1986 in a heathland in Suffolk, UK (Lowday & Marrs 1992) found that rotovating soil after removal of bracken Pteridium aquilinium did not increase total plant biomass or biomass of heather Calluna vulgaris when compared to plots that were not rotovated (data reported in log units). In 1978 all plots were sprayed with the herbicide asulam. Four 12 m2 plots were rotovated to dig bracken leaf litter into soil and four plots were not rotovated. Vegetation was visually estimated annually in each plot in June or July in 1979–1986

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.