Trends in soil chemistry and floristics associated with the establishment of a low-input meadow system on an arable clay soil in Essex

  • Published source details Snow C.S.R., Marrs R.H. & Merrick L. (1997) Trends in soil chemistry and floristics associated with the establishment of a low-input meadow system on an arable clay soil in Essex. Biological Conservation, 79, 35-41.


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 trial near Clavering in Essex, UK (Snow et al. 1997) found that plant species richness increased dramatically on an ex-arable field following ten years of traditional hay meadow management. The number of plant species in the restored meadow increased from 19 species in 1988 to 42 species in 1994, after planting with a commercial rye grass Lolium perenne and white clover Trifolium repens seed mix in 1984. The meadow changed from being dominated by sown rye grass to including grasses such as soft brome Bromus hordeaceus and crested dog’s tail Cynosurus cristatus. Species usually found on species-rich grasslands, black medick Medicago lupulina, not found in 1988, became dominant. Two orchid species colonized (common spotted orchid Dactylorhiza fuschii and bee orchid Ophrys apifera). The 3 ha site was cut once in July, aftermath grazed with around five sheep/ha from August to October and had no fertilizer added. Plants were monitored each June from 1988 to 1994, in 40 randomly placed 0.25 m2 quadrats. Importantly, the site was immediately adjacent to two established hay meadows (present in 1941), in which the number of plant species also increased from 26 in 1989 to 48-57 species in 1994.


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