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Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Add topsoil (alongside planting/seeding) Shrubland and Heathland Conservation

Key messages

Read our guidance on Key messages before continuing

  • One randomized, replicated, paired, controlled study in the USA found that addition of topsoil alongside sowing of seed increased the biomass of grasses but reduced the biomass of forbs in comparison to addition of topsoil alone.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

1 

A randomized, replicated, paired, controlled study in 1997–2000 in a former coal mine in Wyoming, USA (1) found that addition of topsoil alongside sowing of seed increased the biomass of grasses but reduced the biomass of forbs in comparison to addition of topsoil alone. Areas where topsoil was added and seed sown had higher grass biomass (51-93 g/m2) than areas where topsoil alone was added (14 g/m2). However, in areas where topsoil was added and seed sown, forb biomass was lower (12-37 g/m2) than in areas where topsoil was added alone (76 g/m2). Topsoil was spread to a depth of 56 cm over the entire site in December 1997. In spring 1998 the entire site was seeded with barley Hordeum vulgare which was later cut to provide a mulch. In December 1998 grass seed was sown in twenty 6.5 x 27 m plots, while in four plots no seed was sown. Wyoming big sagebrush Artemisia tridentata wyomingensis seeds were also sown in all plots. In July 2000 clippings of vegetation were taken in four 0.18 m2 quadrats within each plot to determine biomass.

Referenced papers

Please cite as:

Martin P.A., Rocha R., Smith R.K. & Sutherland W.J. (2018) Shrubland and Heathland Conservation. Pages 447-494 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, N. Ockendon, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2018. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.