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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Patterns in species composition of arable field boundary vegetation

Published source details

Kleijn D., Joenje W. & Kropff M.J. (1997) Patterns in species composition of arable field boundary vegetation. Acta Botanica Neerlandica, 46, 175-192


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 trial in the Netherlands (Kleijn et al. 1997) found that 4 m-wide field margins sown with rye grass Lolium perenne had fewer plant species than margins left to naturally regenerate or sown with wildflowers two years after establishment. On average there were 5.9 plant species/0.25 m2 in grass-sown margins, compared with 8.6 in naturally regenerated margins and 13.7 in margins sown with 30 non-grass wildflower species. Two prominent arable weeds, creeping thistle Cirsium arvense and couch grass Elymus repens both had lower biomass in the grass-sown margins than in naturally regenerated margins (8 g/m2 and 9 g/m2 respectively in grass-sown margins, 33 g/m2 and 28 g/m2 in naturally regenerated plots). Wildflower-sown margins had similar couch grass biomass to the grass-sown plots, but much lower creeping thistle biomass (0.1 g/m2 in wildflower margins). In 1993, 27 experimental plots (8 x 4 m) were established on the boundaries of three arable fields. There were three replicates of each treatment on each field. All plots were mown once a year, without removing cuttings. Plant biomass and number of species were measured in eight 0.5 m x 0.5 m plots on a single transect line across each margin, in August 1995.

Create uncultivated margins around intensive arable or pasture fields Farmland Conservation

A replicated trial from 1993 to 1996 on farmland near Wageningen, Netherlands (Kleijn et al. 1997) found that 4 m-wide field margins left to naturally regenerate had more plant species than margins sown with rye grass Lolium perenne, two years after establishment. On average there were 9 plant species/0.25 m2 in naturally regenerated margins, compared to 6 in grass-sown margins and 14 in margins sown with 30 non-grass wildflower species. Two prominent arable weeds, creeping thistle Cirsium arvense and couch grass Elymus repens both had higher biomass in the naturally regenerated margins than in wildflower or grass-sown margins (33 g/m2 and 28 g/m2 respectively in naturally regenerated plots, compared to 0-8 g/m2 and 6-9 g/m2 in sown margins). In 1993, experimental plots (8 x 4 m) were established on boundaries of three arable fields. All plots were mown once a year, without removing cuttings. There were three replicates of each treatment on each field. Plant biomass and number of species were measured in eight 0.5 m x 0.5 m plots on a single transect line across each margin, in August 1995.

Plant nectar flower mixture/wildflower strips Farmland Conservation

A replicated trial in 1995 near Wageningen in the Netherlands (Kleijn et al. 1997) found that 4 m-wide field margins planted with wildflowers had more plant species than margins left to naturally regenerate or sown with rye grass Lolium perenne two years after establishment. On average there were 13.7 plant species/0.25 m2 in wildflower margins, 8.6 in naturally regenerated margins and 5.9 in grass-sown margins. There were fewer plant species in the 1 m of wildflower margin closest to the arable field (11-12 species/0.25 m2) than in plots more than 1.5 m away (14-17 species): this pattern was not observed in other treatments. Two prominent arable weeds, creeping thistle Cirsium arvense and couch grass Elymus repens, both had lower biomass in wildflower-sown margins than in naturally regenerated margins (0.1 g/m2 and 6 g/m2 respectively in wildflower-sown margins, 33 g/m2 and 28 g/m2 in naturally regenerated plots). Wildflower-sown margins had similar couch grass biomass to the grass-sown plots, but much lower creeping thistle biomass (8 g/m2 of creeping thistle in grass margins). In 1993, 27 experimental plots (8 x 4 m) were established on the boundaries of three arable fields. Wildflower plots were sown with 30 broadleaved (non-grass) wildflower species. All plots were mown once a year, without removing cuttings. There were three replicates of each treatment on each field. Plant biomass and species richness were measured in eight 0.5 x 0.5 m plots along a single transect across each margin in August 1995.