Study

Quantifying the extent to which farmers can influence biodiversity on their farms

  • Published source details Stoeckli S., Birrer S., Zellweger-Fischer J., Balmer O., Jenny M. & Pfiffner L. (2017) Quantifying the extent to which farmers can influence biodiversity on their farms. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 237, 224-233.

Actions

This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Increase crop diversity across a farm or farmed landscape

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation

Undersow spring cereals, with clover for example

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation

Use motor bar mowers rather than rotary mowers

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation

Leave uncropped, cultivated margins or plots

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation

Reduce field size (or maintain small fields)

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation

Convert to organic farming

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation

Increase the proportion of natural or semi‐natural habitat in the farmed landscape

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation

Use rotational mowing

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation

Reduce grazing intensity on grassland by reducing stocking density

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation

Pay farmers to cover the costs of conservation measures (as in agri-environment schemes or conservation incentives)

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation
  1. Increase crop diversity across a farm or farmed landscape

    A replicated, site comparison study in 2009–2011 in 133 mixed farms in the Central Plateau, Switzerland (Stoeckli et al. 2017) found that farms with a greater number of habitat types (including crop types) had a similar abundance and species richness of butterflies to farms with fewer habitat types. Both the abundance and species richness of butterflies on farms with more different habitats (>3/farm) were similar to farms with fewer habitats (<3/farm) (data presented as model results). A total of 133 farms (17–34 ha, 13–91% arable crops) were managed with “Ecological Compensation Areas” under agri-environment schemes. Management included extensive and low-input meadows with reduced fertilizer and later cutting dates, and the presence of trees, hedgerows and wildflower patches, as well as arable crops and pasture. From May–September 2009–2011, butterflies were surveyed six times on 10–38 transects/farm, totalling 2,500 m/farm. Each transect ran diagonally through a single crop or habitat type, with all available crops and habitats represented. All visits to a farm were completed in a single year, and the species richness was summed across all visits. Total abundance of butterflies was calculated from the number recorded in each habitat, and the availability of each habitat across the farm. Habitats on each farm were mapped between May and August.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

  2. Undersow spring cereals, with clover for example

    A replicated, site comparison study in 2009–2011 in 133 mixed farms in the Central Plateau, Switzerland (Stoeckli et al. 2017) found that farms with more in-field agri-environment scheme (AES) options, including undersown cereals, had a similar abundance and species richness of butterflies to farms with fewer (AES) options. Both the abundance and species richness of butterflies on farms with a larger area of in-field AES options was similar to farms with smaller areas of in-field AES options (data presented as model results). A total of 133 farms (17–34 ha, 13–91% arable crops) were managed with in-field AES options, including undersown cereals, undrilled patches in crops, wide-spaced rows, cover crops, use of bar mowers, staggered mowing, no silage and no chemical inputs. Fields without chemical inputs contributed about half of the area of AES options, on average. From May–September 2009–2011, butterflies were surveyed six times on 10–38 transects/farm, totalling 2,500 m/farm. Each transect ran diagonally through a single crop or habitat type, with all available crops and habitats represented. All visits to a farm were completed in a single year, and the species richness was summed across all visits. Total abundance of butterflies was calculated from the number recorded in each habitat, and the availability of each habitat across the farm.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

  3. Use motor bar mowers rather than rotary mowers

    A replicated, site comparison study in 2009–2011 in 133 mixed farms in the Central Plateau, Switzerland (Stoeckli et al. 2017) found that farms with more in-field agri-environment scheme (AES) options, including using bar mowers instead of rotary mowers, had a similar abundance and species richness of butterflies to farms with fewer AES options. Both the abundance and species richness of butterflies on farms with a larger area of in-field AES options was similar to farms with smaller areas of in-field AES options (data presented as model results). A total of 133 farms (17–34 ha, 13–91% arable crops) were managed with in-field AES options, including use of bar mowers, staggered mowing, no silage, undersown cereals, undrilled patches in crops, wide-spaced rows, cover crops and no chemical inputs. Fields without chemical inputs contributed about half of the area of AES options, on average. From May–September 2009–2011, butterflies were surveyed six times on 10–38 transects/farm, totalling 2,500 m/farm. Each transect ran diagonally through a single crop or habitat type, with all available crops and habitats represented. All visits to a farm were completed in a single year, and the species richness was summed across all visits. Total abundance of butterflies was calculated from the number recorded in each habitat, and the availability of each habitat across the farm.

    (Summarised by: Andew Bladon)

  4. Leave uncropped, cultivated margins or plots

    A replicated, site comparison study in 2009–2011 in 133 mixed farms in the Central Plateau, Switzerland (Stoeckli et al. 2017) found that farms with more in-field agri-environment scheme (AES) options, including uncropped, cultivated plots, had a similar abundance and species richness of butterflies to farms with fewer (AES) options. Both the abundance and species richness of butterflies on farms with a larger area of in-field AES options was similar to farms with smaller areas of in-field AES options (data presented as model results). A total of 133 farms (17–34 ha, 13–91% arable crops) were managed with in-field AES options, including undrilled patches in crops, wide-spaced rows, cover crops, undersown cereals, use of bar mowers, staggered mowing, no silage and no chemical inputs. Fields without chemical inputs contributed about half of the area of AES options, on average. From May–September 2009–2011, butterflies were surveyed six times on 10–38 transects/farm, totalling 2,500 m/farm. Each transect ran diagonally through a single crop or habitat type, with all available crops and habitats represented. All visits to a farm were completed in a single year, and the species richness was summed across all visits. Total abundance of butterflies was calculated from the number recorded in each habitat, and the availability of each habitat across the farm.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

  5. Reduce field size (or maintain small fields)

    A replicated, site comparison study in 2009–2011 in 133 mixed farms in the Central Plateau, Switzerland (Stoeckli et al. 2017) found that farms with more, smaller fields had a higher abundance, but not species richness, of butterflies than farms with fewer, larger fields. The abundance of butterflies on farms with more, smaller fields was higher than on farms with fewer, larger fields, but there was no difference in butterfly species richness (data presented as model results). A total of 133 farms (17–34 ha, 13–91% arable crops) were surveyed. From May–September 2009–2011, butterflies were surveyed six times on 10–38 transects/farm, totalling 2,500 m/farm. Each transect ran diagonally through a single crop or habitat type, with all available crops and habitats represented. All visits to a farm were completed in a single year, and the species richness was summed across all visits. Total abundance of butterflies was calculated from the number recorded in each habitat, and the availability of each habitat across the farm.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

  6. Convert to organic farming

    A replicated, site comparison study in 2009–2011 in 133 mixed farms in the Central Plateau, Switzerland (Stoeckli et al. 2017) found that organic farms had a similar abundance and species richness of butterflies to conventional farms. On organically managed farms, both the abundance and species richness of butterflies was similar to conventionally managed farms (data presented as model results). Of 133 farms (17–34 ha, 13–91% arable crops), 42 were managed organically, and 91 were managed conventionally. All farms contained “Ecological Compensation Areas” under agri-environment schemes. From May–September 2009–2011, butterflies were surveyed six times on 10–38 transects/farm, totalling 2,500 m/farm. Each transect ran diagonally through a single crop or habitat type, with all available crops and habitats represented. All visits to a farm were completed in a single year, and the species richness was summed across all visits. Total abundance of butterflies was calculated from the number recorded in each habitat, and the availability of each habitat across the farm.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

  7. Increase the proportion of natural or semi‐natural habitat in the farmed landscape

    A replicated, site comparison study in 2009–2011 in 133 mixed farms in the Central Plateau, Switzerland (Stoeckli et al. 2017) found that farms managed with larger areas of semi-natural habitat had a higher abundance, but not species richness, of butterflies than farms with less semi-natural habitat. The abundance of butterflies on farms with more semi-natural habitat was higher than on farms with less semi-natural habitat, but there was no difference in butterfly species richness (data presented as model results). A total of 133 farms (17–34 ha, 13–91% arable crops) were managed with “Ecological Compensation Areas” under agri-environment schemes. Management included extensive and low-input meadows with reduced fertilizer and later cutting dates, and the presence of trees, hedgerows and wildflower patches. From May–September 2009–2011, butterflies were surveyed six times on 10–38 transects/farm, totalling 2,500 m/farm. Each transect ran diagonally through a single crop or habitat type, with all available crops and habitats represented. All visits to a farm were completed in a single year, and the species richness was summed across all visits. Total abundance of butterflies was calculated from the number recorded in each habitat, and the availability of each habitat across the farm. Semi-natural habitats on each farm were mapped between May and August.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

  8. Use rotational mowing

    A replicated, site comparison study in 2009–2011 in 133 mixed farms in the Central Plateau, Switzerland (Stoeckli et al. 2017) found that farms with more in-field agri-environment scheme (AES) options, including staggered mowing, had a similar abundance and species richness of butterflies to farms with fewer (AES) options. Both the abundance and species richness of butterflies on farms with a larger area of in-field AES options were similar to farms with smaller areas of in-field AES options (data presented as model results). A total of 133 farms (17–34 ha, 13–91% arable crops) were managed with in-field AES options, including staggered mowing, use of bar mowers, no silage, undersown cereals, undrilled patches in crops, wide-spaced rows, cover crops and no chemical inputs. Fields without chemical inputs contributed about half of the area of AES options, on average. From May–September 2009–2011, butterflies were surveyed six times on 10–38 transects/farm, totalling 2,500 m/farm. Each transect ran diagonally through a single crop or habitat type, with all available crops and habitats represented. All visits to a farm were completed in a single year, and the species richness was summed across all visits. Total abundance of butterflies was calculated from the number recorded in each habitat, and the availability of each habitat across the farm.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

  9. Reduce grazing intensity on grassland by reducing stocking density

    A replicated, site comparison study in 2009–2011 in 133 mixed farms in the Central Plateau, Switzerland (Stoeckli et al. 2017) found that farms with a lower livestock density had a similar abundance and species richness of butterflies to farms with higher livestock density. Both the abundance and species richness of butterflies on farms with a lower density of livestock was similar to farms with higher livestock densities (data presented as model results). A total of 133 farms (17–34 ha, 13–91% arable crops) were managed with “Ecological Compensation Areas” under agri-environment schemes, and pastures were stocked at a range of livestock densities. From May–September 2009–2011, butterflies were surveyed six times on 10–38 transects/farm, totalling 2,500 m/farm. Each transect ran diagonally through a single crop or habitat type, with all available crops and habitats represented. All visits to a farm were completed in a single year, and the species richness was summed across all visits. Total abundance of butterflies was calculated from the number recorded in each habitat, and the availability of each habitat across the farm.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

  10. Pay farmers to cover the costs of conservation measures (as in agri-environment schemes or conservation incentives)

    A replicated, site comparison study in 2009–2011 in 133 mixed farms in the Central Plateau, Switzerland (Stoeckli et al. 2017) found that farms with more land managed under agri-environment schemes (AES) had a higher abundance, but not species richness, of butterflies than farms with less land under AES. The abundance of butterflies on farms with more land managed under AES was higher than on farms with less land managed under AES, but there was no difference in butterfly species richness (data presented as model results). A total of 133 farms (17–34 ha, 13–91% arable crops) were managed with “Ecological Compensation Areas” under AES. Management included extensive and low-input meadows with reduced fertilizer and later cutting dates, and the presence of trees, hedgerows and wildflower patches. From May–September 2009–2011, butterflies were surveyed six times on 10–38 transects/farm, totalling 2,500 m/farm. Each transect ran diagonally through a single crop or habitat type, with all available crops and habitats represented. All visits to a farm were completed in a single year, and the species richness was summed across all visits. Total abundance of butterflies was calculated from the number recorded in each habitat, and the availability of each habitat across the farm. Ecological Compensation Areas on each farm were mapped between May and August.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

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