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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Seed mixtures containing grassland forbs enhance plant diversity of sown grass margins in arable fields under the Countryside Stewardship agri-environment scheme in England

Published source details

Critchley C.N.R., Fowbert J.A., Sherwood A.J. & Pywell R.F. (2006) Vegetation development of sown grass margins in arable fields under a countrywide agri-environment scheme. Biological Conservation, 132, 1-11


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Plant grass buffer strips/margins around arable or pasture fields Farmland Conservation

A replicated, controlled study in summer 2004 in lowland England, UK (Critchley et al. 2006) found sown margins contained more species of grasses and wildflowers (including perennials) as well as more foodplants for birds, butterfly (Lepidoptera) larvae and bumblebees Bombus spp. foodplants than cereal field headlands. Margins sown with a mixture of grasses and wildflowers had fewer weed species than unsown sites and compared to grass-only sown margins they had a greater number of plant species and up to 60% more perennial wildflowers. Annual plants were more prevalent in grass-sown margins up to two years old, but species composition was not related to age in older margins. One hundred and sixteen margins were studied in eight regions. Five types of margin (minimum length 120 m) were monitored: sown with grass mix (less than two years old), sown with grass mix (more than two years old), sown with grass and wildflower mix, naturally regenerated and normal cereal field margins (control). This study was part of the same experimental set-up as Critchley et al. (2007).