Plant species enrichment of ecologically impoverished grassland a small scale trial

  • Published source details Fenner M. & Spellerberg I.F. (1988) Plant species enrichment of ecologically impoverished grassland a small scale trial. Field Studies, 7, 153-158.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Add fertilizer to soil before or after seeding/planting

Action Link
Grassland Conservation

Restore/create species-rich, semi-natural grassland

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Add fertilizer to soil before or after seeding/planting

    A replicated, paired, controlled study in 1986–1987 in a meadow in Hampshire, UK (Fenner & Spellerberg 1988) found that adding compost and sowing seeds of 12 grassland species did not increase survival of seedlings compared to sowing without fertilizer. During the first two growing seasons, the survival of seedlings did not differ between plots where compost was added to the soil alongside sowing of seeds and plots where seeds were sown without compost (no data presented). In March 1986, the meadow was sprayed with herbicide and plots dug to remove all dead vegetation. In three 2.6 m x 1.2 m plots, a 2.5 cm layer of compost was added to the soil surface and seeds of 12 grassland species were sown. In three other plots, no compost was added but seeds were sown. Survival of plants in each plot was recorded during the growing seasons in 1986 and 1987.

    (Summarised by: Philip Martin)

  2. Restore/create species-rich, semi-natural grassland

    A replicated trial in 1986 and 1987 at the Chilworth Research Centre, Hampshire, UK (Fenner & Spellerberg 1988) tested survival of twelve native plant species, either grown in pots or sown as seeds on an existing meadow. Three species, black knapweed Centaurea nigra, St John’s wort Hypericum perforatum and musk mallow Malva moschata always survived well (83% or more survived). Five species survived better when sown as seeds (oxeye daisy Leucanthemum vulgare, self-heal Prunella vulgaris and lady’s bedstraw Galium verum) or when planted as plug plants (betony Betonia officinalis and cowslip Primula veris). Four species had poor survival in both treatments: yellow rattle, Rhinanthus minor, field scabious Knautia arvensis (both 0% survival), harebell Campanula rotundifolia and bulbous buttercup Ranunculus bulbosus (0-8% survival). Plants sown as seeds into cleared plots were almost always larger after two growing seasons than those planted out as plug plants. Sown plots were cleared with herbicide in March 1986. Seeds were covered with 2.5 cm of compost, a perforated polythene cloche, or both. There were three replicates of each treatment. Results showed no difference between the germination or survival of plants under different coverings. Twenty-four plants of each species were planted out into a meadow where the vegetation was 10-15 cm high in July 1986, at 1 m intervals. The growth of sown and planted plants was monitored in September 1987.


Output references
What Works 2021 cover

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

More about What Works in Conservation

Download free PDF or purchase
The Conservation Evidence Journal

The Conservation Evidence Journal

An online, free to publish in, open-access journal publishing results from research and projects that test the effectiveness of conservation actions.

Read the latest volume: Volume 21

Go to the CE Journal

Discover more on our blog

Our blog contains the latest news and updates from the Conservation Evidence team, the Conservation Evidence Journal, and our global partners in evidence-based conservation.

Who uses Conservation Evidence?

Meet some of the evidence champions

Endangered Landscape ProgrammeRed List Champion - Arc Kent Wildlife Trust The Rufford Foundation Save the Frogs - Ghana Mauritian Wildlife Supporting Conservation Leaders
Sustainability Dashboard National Biodiversity Network Frog Life The international journey of Conservation - Oryx Cool Farm Alliance UNEP AWFA Bat Conservation InternationalPeople trust for endangered species Vincet Wildlife Trust