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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Acidifying peat as an aid to the reconstruction of lowland heath on arable soil in East Anglia, England

Published source details

Davy A.J., Dunsford S.J. & Free A.J. (1998) Acidifying peat as an aid to the reconstruction of lowland heath on arable soil: lysimeter experiments. Journal of Applied Ecology, 35, 649-659


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

Add peat to soil (alongside planting/seeding) Shrubland and Heathland Conservation

A replicated, randomized, controlled study in 1991–1993 in former agricultural fields in Norfolk, UK (Davy et al. 1998) found that addition of peat to agricultural soils alongside sowing of seed increased the density of heather Calluna vulgaris seedlings in seven of eight trials, and led to larger heather plants, but no heather seedlings survived after two years. After one year, in seven of eight trials, the density of heather seedlings was higher in areas where peat had been added to agricultural soils and heather seed sown (30–66 seedlings/plot) than in areas where heather seed was sown but no peat had been added (5–16 seedlings/plot). However, after two years no seedlings survived in any plots. After one year heather plants were larger in six of eight trials in areas where peat had been added to soils along with seed (5–58 whorls/plant) than in areas where seed had been sown but no peat had been added to soils (1–15 whorls/plant). Thirty-six water tanks were inserted into the ground in September 1991, twenty-four of which contained a mixture of peat and agricultural soil and 12 of which contained only agricultural soil. All tanks were sown with heather shoots that had been harvested in autumn. 10 cm x 10 cm quadrats were placed in each tank and used to monitor the abundance of heather seedlings between June and September 1992.

(Summarised by Phil Martin)