Study

Assessing the value of field margins for butterflies and plants: How to document and enhance biodiversity at the farm scale

  • Published source details Sybertz J., Matthies S., Schaarschmidt F., Reich M. & von Haaren C. (2017) Assessing the value of field margins for butterflies and plants: How to document and enhance biodiversity at the farm scale. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 249, 165-176.

Actions

This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Convert to organic farming

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation

Create uncultivated margins around intensive arable or pasture fields

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
  1. Convert to organic farming

    A replicated, site comparison study in 2015 on seven arable farms in Germany (Sybertz et al. 2017) found that field margins next to organically managed fields had more butterfly species than field margins next to conventionally managed fields. On margins next to organically managed fields, there were more butterfly species than on margins next to conventionally managed fields (data presented as model results). Overall, 143–542 butterflies of 8–25 species were recorded on each organic farm, and 217–446 butterflies of 10–16 species were recorded on each conventional farm (statistical significance not assessed). Five farms (80–700 ha) were managed organically, and two farms (58–260 ha) were managed conventionally. From June–August 2015, butterflies were surveyed six times along 10 permanent, unsprayed and uncropped arable field margins (≥1 m wide, 50–250 m long) on each farm.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

  2. Create uncultivated margins around intensive arable or pasture fields

    A replicated, site comparison study in 2015 on seven arable farms in Germany (Sybertz et al. 2017) found that wider, longer, uncultivated permanent margins which were not mown in the summer had more butterfly species than narrower, shorter or summer-mown margins. All data were presented as model results. There were more butterfly species on longer or wider margins than on shorter or narrower margins. Margins which were completely mown in June or July had fewer butterfly species than margins which were only partially mown in June or July, or were mown at another time of year or not mown at all. On each of seven farms (58–700 ha), 10 permanent, unsprayed and uncropped arable field margins (≥50 m long and ≥1 m wide) were sampled.  Margins were managed by either complete mowing in June or July, partial mowing in June or July, or mowing at other times of year (including unmown margins). From June–August 2015, butterflies were surveyed six times along a 50–250 m transect in each margin.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

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

    A replicated, site comparison study in 2015 on seven arable farms in Germany (Sybertz et al. 2017) found that field margins on farms with more semi-natural habitat in the surrounding area had more butterfly species than margins on farms with less semi-natural habitat. The number of species of butterfly recorded on field margins was higher on farms with more semi-natural habitat within 1 km than on farms surrounded by less semi-natural habitat (data presented as model results). The amount of semi-natural habitat within 1 km of each of seven farms (58–700 ha) was estimated from aerial images. From June–August 2015, butterflies were surveyed six times along 10 permanent, unsprayed and uncropped arable field margins (≥1 m wide, 50–250 m long) on each farm.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

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