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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Recreation of lowland heathland on contrasting ex-arable fields at Euston and Honnington, Suffolk, England

Published source details

Walker K.J., Warman E.A., Bhogal A., Cross R.B., Pywell R.F., Meek B.R., Chambers B.J. & Pakeman R. (2007) Recreation of lowland heathland on ex-arable land: assessing the limiting processes on two sites with contrasting soil fertility and pH. Journal of Applied Ecology, 44, 573-582


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

Strip topsoil Shrubland and Heathland Conservation

A replicated, randomized, controlled study in 1994–2003 in two agricultural fields in Suffolk, UK (Walker et al. 2007) found that removal of topsoil did not increase the cover of common heather Calluna vulgaris in two of two comparisons, after nine years. In two of two comparisons cover of common heather in areas where topsoil had been stripped was not significantly different (0%) to cover in areas where it had not (0%). In 1994 the top 35–45 cm of soil were stripped in four 80 m2 plots while in four other plots soil was not stripped. In April 2003 five 2500 cm2 quadrats were placed in each plot and the cover of all plant species recorded.

(Summarised by Phil Martin)

Plant/sow seeds of nurse plants alongside focal plants Shrubland and Heathland Conservation

A randomized, replicated, controlled study in 1994–2003 in two agricultural fields in Suffolk, UK (Walker et al. 2007) found that sowing seeds of a nurse plant, followed by seeds of heathland species did not increase the cover of common heather Calluna vulgaris . After nine years, cover of common heather in areas where seeds of a nurse plant and heathland species were sown (0%) was not significantly different to that in areas where no seeds had been sown (0%). In 1994 seeds of the nurse plant Italian ryegrass Lolium multiflorum were sown, followed in 1995 by seeds of common heather, grasses, and herbs in four 80 m2 plots. In four other plots no seeds were sown. In April 2003 five 2500 cm2 quadrats were placed in each plot and the cover of all plant species was recorded.

(Summarised by Phil Martin)

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

A randomized, replicated, controlled study in 1994–2003 in two agricultural fields in Suffolk, UK (3) found that application of sulphur, followed by sowing seeds of heathland species did not increase the cover of common heather Calluna vulgaris in four of six comparisons. After nine years and in four of six comparisons, cover of common heather in areas where sulphur had been applied and heathlands seed sown (0–13%) was not significantly different to that in areas where it had not been sown (0%). At both sites in 1994 sulphur was applied in twelve 80 m2 plots following which seeds of heathland species were sown. Italian ryegrass seeds were sown in eight of these plots. At each site in four other plots no seeds were sown. In April 2003 five 2500 cm2 quadrats were placed in each plot and the cover of all plant species recorded.

(Summarised by Phil Martin)

Sow seeds Shrubland and Heathland Conservation

A replicated, randomized, controlled study in 1994–2003 in two agricultural fields in Suffolk, UK (Walker et al. 2007) found that sowing seeds of heathland species did not increase the cover of common heather Calluna vulgaris. After nine years, cover of common heather was not significantly different in areas where heathland seeds had been sown (0%) to that in areas where seeds had not been sown (0%). In 1994–1995 a mixture of common heather, grass, and herb seeds were sown in twelve 80 m2 plots and in four other plots no seeds were sown. In April 2003 five 2500 cm2 quadrats were placed in each plot and the cover of all plant species recorded.

(Summarised by Phil Martin)