One of the valuable things about monitoring your site is using the data to understand what the changes in plant communities are telling you. We have put together a plant chart showing what different meadow species mean in relation to soil-water levels and soil fertility. The data are based on measurements of water-table depth from over twenty meadows. “Wet soil” refers to water tables so close to the surface that there is too little air in the soil for oxygen to circulate. Plant roots need oxygen to live. “Dry soil” refers to water tables so deep that water cannot move up through the soil quickly enough to match the rate of evaporation and therefore the top layer dries out. You can read more about where this data has come from in this report.
Further, we have compiled a table showing what problem species you might encounter and some information about what these mean and what you can do about it:
|Problem plant||What does this indicate?||Possible solutions|
|Curled Dock (Rumex crispus)||Waterlogging and Eutrophication||Repair surface drainage, cut early (mid June)|
|Marsh Ragwort (Senecio aquatica)||Waterlogging and soil disturbance||Repair surface drainage, cut early (mid June); avoid overgrazing|
|Soft rush (Juncus effusus)||Waterlogging and acidification and soil disturbance||Repair surface drainage, apply lime; avoid overgrazing|
|Nettle (Urtica dioica)||Eutrophication||Cut early (mid June); cut twice annually (June & September)|
|Pond sedges (Carex acuta, C. acutiformis, C. riparia and C. vesicaria)||Waterlogging and late or missed cuts||Restore surface drainage; cut early (mid June)|
|Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium)||Eutrophication and late or missed cuts||Cut early (mid June); cut twice annually (June & September)|
|Tall oat grass (Arrhenatherum elatius)||Late or missed cuts or lack of grazing||Cut early or twice|
|Spear thistle||Eutrophication + soil disturbance||Cut early and do not overgraze|
|Sharp-flowered rush (J. acutiflorus)||Wet soil and low nutrient availability||Improve surface drainage and addition of farmyard manure|
Please consult Natural England or the Countryside Council for Wales if you wish to change management on a designated site.