Re‐creating semi‐natural communities: effect of sowing rate on establishment of calcareous grassland

  • Published source details Stevenson M.J., Bullock J.M. & Ward L.K. (1995) Re‐creating semi‐natural communities: effect of sowing rate on establishment of calcareous grassland. Restoration Ecology, 3, 279-289.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Sow native grass and forbs

Action Link
Grassland Conservation

Restore/create species-rich, semi-natural grassland

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Sow native grass and forbs

    A replicated, randomized, paired, controlled study in 1993–1994 in a former arable field in Hampshire, UK (Stevenson et al. 1995) found that sowing grass and forb seeds increased cover and species richness of chalk grassland species, and similarity of the plant community to that of the target community, but reduced cover of weed species. After one year, in three of four comparisons cover of chalk grassland species was higher in areas where seeds had been sown (37–98%) than in areas where seeds had not been sown (8%), while in one comparison there was no significant difference (seeded: 19%, unseeded: 8%). Species richness of chalk grassland plants was higher where seeds had been sown (20–33 species/plot) than where no seeds were sown (7 species/plot). Cover of weed species was lower in areas where seeds were sown (2–12%) than in areas where no seeds were sown (23%). Seeded plots resembled the target community more than plots where no seeds were sown (data presented as graphical analysis). Seeds were collected from two nearby chalk grassland sites using vacuum seed harvesters. In each of four blocks established at the site, four plots were sown with seeds of 47 species at a rate of 0.1 g/m2–4.0 g/m2. Cover of each species was estimated in August 1993 and 1994 using two 1-m2 quadrats/plot.

    (Summarised by: Philip Martin)

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

    A randomized, replicated controlled trial from 1993 to 1994 in Hampshire, UK (Stevenson et al. 1995) found that hand-sowing chalk grassland plants on rotavated ex-arable plots created a community partly resembling the target plant community after two years. Computer analysis showed a 45-62% fit to a UK National Vegetation Classification scheme chalk/limestone grassland community (CG2a – sheep’s fescue Festuca ovina- meadow oat-grass Avenula pratensis grassland, dwarf thistle Cirsium acaule-squinancy wort Asperula cynanchica subcommunity). Higher sowing rates gave a better fit, and a higher percentage cover of chalk grassland plants (from 10% cover at the lowest sowing rate to 100% at the highest rate). The three higher sowing rates had similar numbers of chalk grassland species in the plots (28, 30 and 31 species respectively), by 1994. Control plots and plots sown at 0.1 g/m2 had around six and 20 species chalk grassland species respectively. Seed was sown at 0.1, 0.4, 1 or 4 g/m2. The mixture contained 22 grass/sedge species and 25 herb species. Each rate was sown in four replicate 6 m2 plots, and four control plots were not sown. Plots were rotavated in March 1993, sown by hand, raked and left unmanaged (lightly grazed by rabbits). Plant cover was measured in two 1 m2 quadrats/plot in August 1993 and 1994.


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