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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Abundance of soil nematodes, slugs and dipterous larvae tend to be greater in arable crops without pesticide applications

Published source details

Linzell B.S. & Madge D.S. (1986) Effects of pesticides and fertilizer on invertebrate populations of grass and wheat plots in Kent in relation to productivity and yield. Grass and Forage Science, 41, 159-174


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Reduce fertilizer, pesticide or herbicide use generally Farmland Conservation

A replicated, randomized, controlled study of arable fields between 1982 and 1984 in England (Linzell & Madge 1986) found that the abundance of soil nematodes (Nematoda), slugs (Gastropoda) and fly (Diptera) larvae was greater in plots without pesticide (insecticide) applications. In spring 1983, numbers of nematodes were significantly higher in the plots without pesticide applications (5.5-6.5/50 g) compared to plots sprayed two weeks previously (2.5-3.5). Numbers of slugs did not differ between treatments in the first year but were significantly lower in sprayed plots in 1983-1984 (1-3 vs 10-26/tile). Overall, numbers of fly larvae were higher in plots without pesticide applications (25-75 individuals/replicate cores vs 7-65). Fertilizer did not tend to have a significant effect on soil invertebrate numbers. Four replicated, randomized blocks each comprising 10 plots (6 x 3 m) were established. Treatments were three different grass (Italian rye grass Lolium multiflorum, perennial rye grass L. perenne, existing mixed ley) and two wheat regimes (‘Norman’ and ‘Armada’ varieties), with (phorate and aldicarb; three applications) and without pesticide treatments. Fertilizer was applied to all plots (except wheat ‘Norman’ in 1982) and fungicides applied to wheat when required. Invertebrates were sampled in the spring and autumn after pesticide applications. Free-living soil nematodes and fly larvae were sampled by taking two or four randomly located soil samples (soil corer: 2.5 x 15 cm and 6.5 x 8 cm respectively) from each plot. Slugs were sampled using two wooden tiles/plot with slug pellets underneath, which were collected after 4-7 days.