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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Using headland margins to boost environmental benefits of sugar beet

Published source details

May M. & Nowakowski M. (2003) Using headland margins to boost environmental benefits of sugar beet. British Sugar Beet Review, 71, 48-51


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 2001-2002 in the UK (May & Nowakowski 2003) found that margins of sugar beet Beta vulgaris fields sown with grasses had fewer plant species, and slightly fewer invertebrates (individuals or species) than margins sown with wildflowers, or left to regenerate naturally. Grass-sown margins had 15 plant species/m, compared to 35 and 17 plant species/m for wildflower and naturally regenerated margins respectively, and 6-11 species/m for barley Hordeum vulgare or beet margins. The difference in invertebrate numbers between different treatments was fairly small (over 900 to over 1,700 individuals, 35-45 groups caught). In autumn 2001, 50 x 6 m margins at the edges of beet fields were sown with either sugar beet, spring barley, grasses (eight species), wildflowers (20% of seeds by weight, from 20 species) or allowed to naturally regenerate. There were two replicates of each treatment at each of three sites. In summer 2002, plants (including crop plants) were counted in the margins, and invertebrates sampled using pitfall traps, set for two weeks.

Create uncultivated margins around intensive arable or pasture fields Farmland Conservation

A replicated trial in 2001-2002 in the UK (May & Nowakowski 2003) found that margins of sugar beet Beta vulgaris fields left to naturally regenerate had more invertebrates (individuals and species) but not more plant species than margins sown with wildflowers, crops or grasses. Naturally regenerated margins had over 1,700 invertebrates in total, from 45 groups. However the difference in invertebrate numbers between different treatments was fairly small (over 900 to over 1,700 individuals, 35-45 groups caught). Naturally regenerated margins had around 17 plant species/m, compared to 35 plant species/m on wildflower margins, 15 species/m for grass margins and 6-11 species/m for barley or beet margins. In autumn 2001, 50 m x 6 m margins at the edges of beet fields were planted with either sugar beet, spring barley, grasses (eight species), nothing (natural regeneration) or wildflowers. There were two replicates of each treatment at each of three sites. In summer 2002, plants (including crop plants) were counted in the margins and invertebrates sampled using pitfall traps, set for two weeks.

Plant nectar flower mixture/wildflower strips Farmland Conservation

A replicated trial in 2001-2002 at three sites in the UK (May & Nowakowski 2003) found that margins of sugar beet Beta vulgaris fields sown with wildflowers had more plant species, but not more invertebrates (individuals or species) than margins sown with grasses, crops, or margins left to naturally regenerate. Wildflower margins had 35 plant species/m, compared to around 17 spp./m in naturally regenerated margins, 15 spp./m in grass margins and 6-11 spp./m in barley Hordeum vulgare or beet margins. Fertilized wildflower-sown margins, tested at two sites, had fewer species than those without fertilizer, around 30 plant species/m. Naturally regenerated margins had more invertebrate individuals (>1,700 caught) and invertebrate groups (45 groups) than other margin types. However, the difference in invertebrate numbers between different treatments was fairly small (>900->1,700 individuals, 35-45 groups caught). In autumn 2001, 50 x 6 m margins at the edges of beet fields were planted in three beet growing regions with either sugar beet, spring barley, grasses (eight species), wildflowers (20 % of seeds by weight, from 20 species) or allowed to naturally regenerate. At two sites, a sixth margin of wildflowers with nitrogen fertilizer applied was established. There were two replicates of each treatment at each site. In summer 2002, plants (including crop plants) were counted in the margins, and invertebrates sampled using pitfall traps, set for two weeks.