Responses of Leymus arenarius to nutrients: improvement of seed production and seedling establishment for land reclamation

  • Published source details Greipsson S. & Davy A.J. (1997) Responses of Leymus arenarius to nutrients: improvement of seed production and seedling establishment for land reclamation. Journal of Applied Ecology, 34, 1165-1176.


Iceland has vast areas of mobile sand resulting from volcanic activity, glaciers, over-grazing and erosion. Seed of the coastal, dune-building lyme-grass Leymus (Elymus) arenarius is harvested from natural stands for use in land reclamation and stabilisation programmes. The large scale of use dictates that establishment must be through seed rather than clonal propagation. This study investigated the use of fertilizer treatments in managing the production of seeds in a series of four experiments. The experiment looking at the effects on seedling establishment is summarized here.

Study area: The study was conducted on a volcanic sand plain at Myrdalssandur, southern Iceland.

Seed planting and fertilizer application: The experiment comprised 1 x 1 m plots, 2 m apart, in randomized blocks (six treatments x three replicates) on bare sand. In each plot 150 Leymus seeds were planted at c. 5 cm depth on 20 April 1992.
The first fertilizer treatments, in April 1992, was applied in sowing furrows, after this application was subsequently on the sand surface. Osmocote™ ( a slow release fertilizer) was added only once; Módi™ was added annually in late April or July in 1992, 1993 and 1994.

The treatments were:

1) Control;

2) N and P added together as Módi™ (52 kg N, 28 kg P/ha);

3) N and P added together as Módi™ (104 kg N, 56 kg P/ha);

4) N and P added together as Módi™ (104 kg N, 56 kg P/ha) applied July;

5) N,P,K added together as Osmocote (100 kg N, 61 kg P, 56 kg K/ha) initially, + Módi™ (52 kg N, 28 kg P/ha) subsequently;

6) N,P,K added together as Osmocote (64 kg N, 40 kg P, 40 kg K/ha)

Leymus seed was harvested in the plots in August 1994 and August 1995.

Measurements: Number of seedlings (i.e. emergence) and mortality were recorded in May and September 1992-1993. Tillers in each plot were recorded in 1994 and 1995 as it was not possible to distinguish individuals. Dry mass was determined for all above-ground plant parts in September 1995.

Establishment of Leymus arenarius seedlings on the sandy barrens over the first two seasons from sowing was improved by the application of slow-release fertilizers. However, rapid-release fertilizer formulations applied annually produced a similar tiller density and biomass after 4 years more economically. Untreated control populations died out over the same period, underlining the necessity for nutrient addition.

Note: If using or referring to this published study, please read and quote the original paper.

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 19

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 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