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BD5001: Characterisation of soil structural degradation under grassland and development of measures to ameliorate its impact on biodiversity and other soil functions (RP00359)

Soil compaction may threaten the success of agri-environment schemes. To understand the distribution of soil compaction, its causes, and identify methods to alleviate it, this Defra funded project surveyed compaction at 300 grasslands in England and Wales, assessing management and soil structure. Practical measures to mitigate compaction (mechanical and plants) were be identified and their impact explored through field experiments. Also the impacts on vegetation, water, invertebrates, birds, soil carbon and N2O flux .

Project details

Start date2009-07-06
End date2014-10-31
Project spend£699,732.00

Project outputs

This project produced the following outputs:

Final reportDefra publication

Closing statement

The main findings are:

  • Grassland with deeper top soil where the compaction is deeper below the surface may be more of an issue than soils with less top soil where the compaction is closer to the surface.
  • Compacted soils are not limited to ‘improved’ grasslands.
  • It is essential that soils are assessed for the degree and depth of the compaction before any mechanical loosening is carried out.