Soil disturbance is recognised as an important restoration measure for conserving biodiversity in sandy soils. We used a soil disturbance (ploughing) experiment in a sandy grassland as well as a semi-natural disturbance (slope erosion enhanced by cattle trampling) gradient on a sandy slope to test the soil disturbance effects on the ground-living beetle community. Both experimental disturbance and semi-natural disturbance favoured sandy grassland specialists, but there was no overall effect on beetle richness and abundance. Amara lucida and Harpalus spp. were favoured by disturbance while Calathus melanocephalus was disfavoured. Experimental ploughing significantly increased the proportion of red-listed species in disturbed plots compared to non-disturbed controls. In the semi-natural disturbance gradient we found that the beetle community on the disturbed slope differed from that of the flat areas, and there were tendencies for a higher proportion of red-listed species on the slope. We conclude that increasing the area of bare sand in sandy grasslands can have positive effects on many threatened species. Soil disturbance should thus be included as a regular measure in sandy grasslands under conservation management and as a measure to restore high biodiversity in areas where bare sand is rare.