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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Topsoil removal and planting of seedlings, rather than seeds, assisted the restoration of a Cirsio-Molinietum meadow over four years in the UK

Published source details

Tallowin J.R.B. & Smith R.E.N. (2001) Restoration of a Cirsio-Molinietum Fen Meadow on an Agriculturally Improved Pasture. Restoration Ecology, 9, 167-178


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

Restore or create traditional water meadows Farmland Conservation

A replicated, controlled, randomized study of a species-poor agriculturally improved pasture in the UK (Tallowin & Smith 2001) found that topsoil removal and planting of seedlings, rather than seeds, resulted in establishment of species typical of a fen meadow plant community (Cirsio-Molinietum: purple moor grass Molinia caerulea-meadow thistle Cirsium dissectum community) over four years. When seedlings were planted, combined cover by Cirsio-Molinietum species was highest in treatments with topsoil removal (up to 75% in year four). Where topsoil was not removed, vegetation was dominated by a few competitive species such as common knapweed Centaurea nigra (up to 60% cover). Two years after sowing seeds from a Cirsio-Molinietum meadow, only three of the 17 species had established at more than trace amounts (combined cover of 8%). Treatments to reduce site fertility included cutting and removal of vegetation, cultivation, fallowing and topsoil removal (10-20 cm) and addition of straw and/or lignitic clay. Randomized block experiments were established with treatments applied to plots of 9 x 2 m where seeds were sown (1989-1992) and 2 x 2 m where seedlings of 14 species were planted (1994-1999). Plant composition of plots was sampled in June 1992 and 1997-1999.