Plant nettle strips
Overall effectiveness category Unknown effectiveness (limited evidence)
Number of studies: 1
Background information and definitions
In agricultural landscapes, field margins can provide valuable habitats for maintaining and enhancing biodiversity. The common nettle Urtica dioica is a perennial species that provides food for a range of insects (Greig-Smith 1948), including ‘beneficial’ species that help to suppress pests. This intervention involves planting nettle strips which may enhance invertebrate diversity on arable fields.
Greig-Smith P.W. (1948) Biological flora of the British Isles. Journal of Ecology, 36, 343-351.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A small study in 2005 of six nettle Urtica dioica strips planted in the margins of three arable crops in Belgium (Alhmedi et al. 2007) found that planting nettles resulted in a higher number of aphid predator species. Numbers of aphid predator species tended to be higher on nettles (nettle strips: 6-9 species, natural nettle stand: 15) than crop plants (0-4 species). Predator abundance was significantly greater on the natural nettle stand (89 individuals) than wheat and pea crops (predators: 17-20). However predator abundance was lowest on nettle plots (predators: 6-14). Nine ladybird (Coccinellidae) species were observed on nettle, compared to six on crops. Ladybird and hoverfly (Syrphidae) abundance was highest on the natural nettle stand (62 ladybirds and 7 hoverflies), followed by wheat and pea crops (5-19 and 3-5 respectively) and lowest on nettle plots (3-9 and 0-1). Predatory minute pirate bugs (Anthocoridae), plant bugs (Miridae) and green lacewings (Chrysopidae) were only observed on nettle. Nettle strips were planted in two plots (10 x 20 m) in the margins of three arable fields, a nearby large natural nettle stand (1,000 m²) in a natural reserve was also sampled. Ten plants/plot were randomly selected each week to count and identify all aphid predator populations (May-August 2005). Larvae were collected and reared until emerged adults could be identified. Aphid data are not presented here.Study and other actions tested