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Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Make selective use of spring herbicides Farmland Conservation

Key messages

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A replicated, controlled, randomized study in the UK found that spring herbicides had some benefits for beneficial weeds and arthropods.


Supporting evidence from individual studies


A replicated, controlled, randomized study from 2003 to 2005 of arable fields at three sites in the UK (Jones & Smith 2007) found that spring herbicides had some benefits for beneficial weeds and arthropods. Species richness and cover of beneficial weeds tended to be higher with single spring or post-emergence herbicide applications than pre-emergence or combinations of applications; figures were lowest in plots with three annual applications. Cover of undesirable weeds was higher in single spring or pre-emergence applications than combined treatments. Single applications tended to reduce arthropod abundance less than sequences of herbicides, although post-emergence and pre-emergence applications were detrimental to some taxa. There were three or five replicate plots (3 or 4 x 24 m) of each treatment per site: untreated, pre-emergence, post-emergence or spring applications or combinations of each two/all herbicide applications. Vegetation was sampled in five quadrats (0.25 m²) in each plot (June 2003-2005). Arthropods were sampled using a D-Vac suction sampler (five sub-samples of 10s/plot) in a sub-set of treatments (June).

Referenced papers

Please cite as:

Dicks, L.V., Ashpole, J.E., Dänhardt, J., James, K., Jönsson, A., Randall, N., Showler, D.A., Smith, R.K., Turpie, S., Williams D.R. & Sutherland, W.J. (2019) Farmland Conservation Pages 291-330 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, N. Ockendon, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2019. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.