I am having an issue with this sentence -- I can't figure out if I have the correct verb agreement:

Vegetation and surface cover are first removed using shovels.

It sounds like it should be "is first removed" but I can't justify it. I wouldn't say "apples and oranges is first removed from the bowl," but that is clear to me -- there is a definite S ending so the plural sound is concrete on appleS and orangeS.

Anyway, should I go with "are" though it feels wrong, somehow? And can anyone tell me why? Thank you very much!!!
Hello MK,

1. Vegetation and surface cover are first removed using shovels.

2. Vegetation and surface cover is first removed using shovels.

To my mind, both versions are possible. By using "are", you suggest that vegetation and surface cover are to be understood as separate entities. By using "is", you suggest that they constitute a whole.

However, other members' ears may be tuned differently!

Best wishes,

Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
PS: I've removed the intrusive Microsoft codes from your post, but unfortunately have lost your emboldening, etc. too. Sorry about that.

Welcome to English Forums, by the way!
Ah, thank you! And thank you for the welcome! Your answer makes sense. Now I have to decide which way I mean it... as a whole or as separate entities.

Thanks again!