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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Managing uncropped land in order to enhance biodiversity benefits of the arable farmed landscape. RD-2004-3137

Published source details

Anon . (2008) Managing uncropped land in order to enhance biodiversity benefits of the arable farmed landscape. RD-2004-3137. H. -g. C. Authority Project report.


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Plant wild bird seed or cover mixture Farmland Conservation

A replicated, controlled, randomized study on 28 arable farms in East Anglia and southern England (Anon 2008) found that as the area sown with cover crops increased plant diversity in both regions, numbers of butterflies (Lepidoptera) in East Anglia and bees (Apidae) in southern England increased. Results also suggested that cover crops sown in strips have greater butterfly diversity than those sown in blocks, this did not appear to be the case for bees, but numbers recorded were low in the wet cool summer. One of six treatments was randomly allocated to each farm (two replicates per region): 1.5 ha or 6 ha of project-managed uncropped land in either strips or blocks, or 1.5 ha or 6 ha of farm-managed uncropped land. Two organic farms were also selected per region. Uncropped land was split into four equal areas comprising a floristically-enhanced grass mix, a plant mix to provide summer cover and foraging (e.g. mustard, legume, cereal mixture), a mix to provide winter cover and foraging (e.g. cereal/kale Brassica spp./quinoa Chenopodium quinoa mixture) and annual cultivation to encourage annual arable plants. Plants (April and June) and insects were assessed within and at the edge of three fields (cereal crop, non-cereal crop and uncropped field in 2006-2009). Butterfly, bee and hoverfly (Syrphidae) diversity and abundance were recorded during transect walks in July.