Long-term change in vegetation and soil microbial communities during the phased restoration of traditional meadow grassland

  • Published source details Smith R.S., Shiel R.S., Bardgett R.D., Millward D., Corkhill P., Quirk H., Hobbs P.J. & Kometa S.T. (2008) Long-term change in vegetation and soil microbial communities during the phased restoration of traditional meadow grassland. Journal of Applied Ecology, 45, 670-679.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Sow native grass and forbs

Action Link
Grassland Conservation
  1. Sow native grass and forbs

    A replicated, randomized, paired, controlled study in 1990–2004 in three agriculturally-improved grasslands in North Yorkshire, UK (Smith et al. 2008 – same experimental set up as Smith et al. 2000) found that sowing grass and forb seeds increased the number of plant species as well as the similarity of the plant community to the target community. In the four years following sowing, sown plots had more species (22 species) and higher similarity to the target plant community of upland meadow species (61% similarity) than plots that were not sown with seeds (19 species, 55% similarity). In 1990, thirty-six 6 x 6 m plots were established, with 12 plots in each of three fields. Eighteen plots (six random plots/field) were sown with 15 kg/ha of commercial seed containing bird’s foot trefoil Lotus corniculatus, quaking grass Briza media and bulbous buttercup Ranunculus bulbosus in August 1998, and 0.5 kg/ha wood cranesbill Geranium sylvaticum in September 1999; eighteen plots were left unsown. Seeded plots had previously been sown with local and commercial seeds in 1990–1992. All plots were grazed in spring and autumn, and cut in July. Vegetation cover was assessed in four 4-m2 quadrats in each plot every other summer in 1994–2004. The target plant community was defined as that associated with well-drained permanent upland meadows, characterised by sweet vernal grass.

    (Summarised by: Philip Martin)

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