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Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Add sulphur to soil Shrubland and Heathland Conservation

Key messages

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  • One randomized, replicated, controlled study in the UK found that adding sulphur to the soil of a former agricultural field did not increase the number of heather seedlings in five of six cases.

Supporting evidence from individual studies


A randomized, replicated, controlled study in 1993–1996 in a former agricultural field in Suffolk, UK (1) found that adding sulphur to soils increased the number of common heather Calluna vulgaris seedlings in one of six cases and reduced vegetation cover in four of six cases. In one of six cases, the number of common heather seedlings was higher in areas where sulphur was added to soils (4 seedlings/plot) than in plots where no sulphur had been added (0 seedlings/plot). In four of six cases vegetation cover in areas where sulphur was added to soils was lower (7–48% cover) than in areas where sulphur was not added to soils (92% cover). In fifteen 5 m x 5 m randomly located plots sulphur was added to topsoil while in three other plots no sulphur was added. All plots were rotavated prior to addition of sulphur. In July 1994–1996 vegetation cover was surveyed using 1 m2 quadrats located in the centre of each plot.

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.