Acidifying arable soils for the restoration of acid grasslands

  • Published source details Owen K.M. & Marrs R.H. (2000) Acidifying arable soils for the restoration of acid grasslands. Applied Vegetation Science, 3, 105-116.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Add sulphur to soil before seeding/planting

Action Link
Grassland Conservation
  1. Add sulphur to soil before seeding/planting

    A replicated, randomized, paired, controlled study in 1993–1996 in a former arable field in Suffolk, UK (Owen & Marrs 2000) found that adding sulphur to soil before sowing seeds reduced overall vegetation cover and species richness but low amounts of sulphur increased the cover of three of six sown species. After two years, plots where sulphur was added to the soil before sowing had on average lower overall vegetation cover (0–93%) and fewer plant species (0–15 species/plot) than plots where no sulphur was added before sowing (118%; 19 species/plot). Low rates of sulphur addition (1–4 tonnes/ha) increased the cover of three of six sown species (common bent Agrostis capillaris, sheep sorrel Rumex acetosella, buck’s-horn plantain Plantago coronopus), while the three other species (sheep fescue Festuca ovina, velvet grass Holcus lanatus, sheep’s-bit Jasione montana) had the highest cover in untreated plots (see original paper for details).. In August 1993, sulphur was added to six 2.5 x 2.5 m plots within each of three blocks (at rates of 1, 2, 4, 8, 10 and 12 tonnes/ha) and rotovated into the soil to a depth of 5–10 cm. One plot/block had no sulphur added. In October 1994, all plots were sown with a seed mixture of 16 plant species at a rate of 45 kg/ha. In August and September 1995 and1996, species richness and vegetation cover were estimated using a 1 x 1 m quadrat randomly placed in the centre of each plot.


    (Summarised by: Philip Martin)

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