A review of the environmental effects of conservation tillage in Europe - earthworms, slugs, grasses and ground-nesting birds benefit
Published source details
Holland J.M. (2004) The environmental consequences of adopting conservation tillage in Europe: reviewing the evidence. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 103, 1-25
Published source details Holland J.M. (2004) The environmental consequences of adopting conservation tillage in Europe: reviewing the evidence. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 103, 1-25
This study is summarised as evidence for the following.
Reduce tillageAction Link
Reduce tillageAction Link
A review of the effects of conservation tillage relative to conventional ploughing (Holland 2004) found mixed effects for birds. One study showed no effect on five bird species in the context of organic farming. Another showed a higher number and diversity of birds on conservation tillage fields in Spain.
A 2004 review of the effects of conservation tillage relative to conventional ploughing (Holland 2004) mainly but not exclusively focussing on European studies, found that earthworms (Lumbricidae) almost always benefit from conservation tillage, but effects are more mixed for other organisms, including plants, birds and mammals. Four European experimental studies and two reviews showed that conservation tillage increased earthworm populations, particularly deep-burrowing species such as Lumbricus terrestris, with up to six times more earthworms under conservation tillage in the context of integrated farming (including: (Edwards & Lofty 1982), El Titi & Ipach 1989, Jordan et al. 2000, Kladivko 2001). Conservation tillage increased the diversity and abundance of springtails (Collembola) and mites (Acari) in four studies (Bertolani et al. 1989, El Titi & Ipach 1989, Vreeken-Buijs et al. 1994, Franchini & Rockett 1996). European studies on larger arthropods (beetles (Coleoptera) and spiders (Araneae)) were less consistent, with two studies showing increased numbers under conservation tillage ((Kendall et al. 1995), Purvis & Fadl 1996), one showing no effect (Huusela-Veistola 1996) and two showing both increases and decreases (Andersen 1999, Holland & Reynolds 2003). Different arthropod species were affected differently. Four UK studies showed an increase in grass species classed as weeds under conservation tillage (Theaker et al. 1995, Rew et al. 1996, Cavan et al. 1999, (McCloskey et al. 1998)). Other weed species have been shown to decline under conservation tillage in the context of integrated farming (one German study; Albrecht & Mattheis 1998) or remain stable (one UK study; (McCloskey et al. 1998)). For birds, one study showed no effect on five bird species in the context of organic farming (Saunders 2000). For mammals, one European study found that wood mice Apodemus sylvaticus were more abundant on conventionally ploughed fields than under conservation tillage in the context of organic and integrated farming (Higginbotham et al. 2000).
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