Severe soil disturbance leads to better establishment of species-rich grassland plants in restoration experiments in England and Wales

  • Published source details Hopkins A., Pywell R.F., Peel S. & Johnson S.W. (1999) Enhancement of botanical diversity of permanent grassland and impact on hay production in Environmentally Sensitive Areas in the UK. Grass and Forage Science, 54, 163-173


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Restore/create species-rich, semi-natural grassland

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Restore/create species-rich, semi-natural grassland

    A replicated, controlled trial on six Environmentally Sensitive Area sites in England and Wales (Hopkins et al. 1999) found that sowing 35 to 40 plant species increased the number of broadleaved plant species on all sites relative to the control and the number of grass species increased on five of the six sites by the second year. The sowing treatments with the most soil disturbance; rotavating and de-turfing, established the most species. In year one, there was an average of seven broadleaved species and seven grass species on the control plots, compared to sixteen broadleaved species and ten grass species on the deturfed treatment, which had the strongest increase in species richness. The trial was carried out in 1994 on 6 x 4 m plots monitored for the following two years, with four replicates of each treatment on each farm. Seven species were successfully introduced by some or all treatments on all sites: yarrow Achillea millefolium, oxeye daisy Leucanthemum vulgare, self-heal Prunella vulgaris and ribwort plantain Plantago lanceolata, black knapweed Centaurea nigra, bird’s-foot trefoil Lotus corniculatus and cat’s ear Hypochoeris radicata. Other species, including yellow rattle Rhinanthus minor, failed to establish.


Output references

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, terrestrial 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 17

Go to the CE Journal

Subscribe to our newsletter

Please add your details if you are interested in receiving updates from the Conservation Evidence team about new papers, synopses and opportunities.

Who uses Conservation Evidence?

Meet some of the evidence champions

Endangered Landscape Programme Red List Champion - Arc Kent Wildlife Trust The Rufford Foundation Save the Frogs - Ghana Bern wood Supporting Conservation Leaders National Biodiversity Network Sustainability Dashboard Frog Life The international journey of Conservation - Oryx British trust for ornithology Cool Farm Alliance UNEP AWFA Butterfly Conservation People trust for endangered species Vincet Wildlife Trust