Action

Add topsoil before seeding/planting

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
    not assessed
  • Certainty
    not assessed
  • Harms
    not assessed

Study locations

Key messages

  • One study examined the effects of adding topsoil before seeding/planting on grassland vegetation. The study was in the USA.

VEGETATION COMMUNITY (1 STUDY)

  • Overall richness/diversity (1 study): One replicated, controlled study in the USA found that adding topsoil before sowing seeds increased plant species richness.

VEGETATION ABUNDANCE (1 STUDY)

  • Sown/planted species abundance (1 study): One replicated, controlled study in the USA found that adding topsoil before sowing seeds increased the biomass of sown species in most cases.

VEGETATION STRUCTURE (0 STUDIES)

About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A replicated, controlled study in 1977–1981 in a formerly mined site in Wyoming, USA (Pinchak et al. 1985) found that adding topsoil before seeding increased plant species richness and biomass of seeded species in most cases, and reduced biomass of species that were not sown in most cases. Areas where topsoil was added and seeds sown had higher plant species richness (4.7–5.2 species/plot) than areas where no topsoil was added but seeds were sown (4.0 species/plot). In six of nine comparisons, the biomass of seeded species was higher in areas where topsoil was added and seeds were sown (445–984 kg/ha) than in areas where no topsoil was added but seeds were sown (180–410 kg/ha). In five of nine comparisons, the biomass of non-seeded species was lower in areas where topsoil was added and seeds were sown (189–952 kg/ha) than in areas where topsoil was not added but seeds were sown (448–1,115 kg/ha). In 1977, topsoil was added to a depth of 20–60 cm to fifteen 45.7 x 4.9 m plots, and no topsoil was added to five plots. Seeds of ‘Critana’ thickspike wheatgrass Agropyron dasystachyum, green needlegrass Stipa viridula, slender wheatgrass A. trachycaulum and ‘Rosana’ western wheatgrass A. smithii were sown at a rate of 15.5 kg/ha in all plots. Biomass was sampled by hand in 4–8 x 0.18-m2 quadrats/plot in 1979–1981. Plant species richness was estimated using 50 x 20 cm quadrats (replication unclear).

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Martin, P.A., Ockendon, N., Berthinussen, A, Smith, R.K. and Sutherland W.J. (2021) Grassland Conservation: Global evidence for the effects of selected interventions. Conservation Evidence Series Synopses. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

All the journals searched for all synopses

Grassland Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Grassland Conservation
Grassland Conservation

Grassland Conservation - Published 2021

Grassland Synopsis

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