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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Cereal crop harvesting as a method of reducing soil fertility on previously farmed heathland, Roper's Heath, Suffolk, England

Published source details

Marrs R.H. (1985) Techniques for reducing soil fertility for nature conservation purposes: a review in relation to research at Roper's Heath, Suffolk, England. Biological Conservation, 34, 307-332


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Restore/create species-rich, semi-natural grassland Farmland Conservation

A 1985 review of four techniques aimed at reducing soil fertility for the restoration of semi-natural grassland or heath (Marrs 1985) found that there was some success. Addition of inorganic nitrogen to a crop was found to extract more phosphorus and other elements from the soil than treatments with no fertilizer addition. Fertilizer addition almost completely exhausted the soil phosphorus store in long-term wheat experiments. Three studies investigating nutrient removal by stubble burning were reviewed (Allen 1964, Kenworthy 1964, Chapman 1967). Burning decreases phosphorus availability and increases potassium availability. Topsoil stripping reduces fertility, but can result in the loss of a large proportion of the seed bank.

Additional references:

Allen S.E. (1964) Chemical aspects of heather burning. Journal of Applied Ecology, 1, 347-367.

Kenworthy J.B. (1964) A study of the changes in plant and soil nutrients associated with moorburning and grazing. PhD thesis. University of St Andrews.

Chapman S.B. (1967) Nutrient budgets for a dry heath ecosystem in the south of England. Journal of Ecology, 55, 677-689.