Influence of autumn applied herbicides on summer and autumn food available to birds in winter wheat fields in southern England

  • Published source details Moreby S.J. & Southway S.E. (1999) Influence of autumn applied herbicides on summer and autumn food available to birds in winter wheat fields in southern England. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 72, 285-297.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Leave headlands in fields unsprayed (conservation headlands)

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Leave headlands in fields unsprayed (conservation headlands)

    A replicated, controlled study from 1989 to 1991 of headlands of two arable fields in England (Moreby & Southway 1999) found that plant and invertebrate diversity was greater in unsprayed plots compared to those receiving autumn herbicide applications. Thirty-two of 34 broadleaved plant species (dicotyledons) were found in unsprayed plots compared to 19 in sprayed plots, total dicotyledon species cover and total cover were also significantly greater in unsprayed plots. Numbers of true bugs (Heteroptera) (unsprayed: 29, sprayed: 23 species), leafhoppers (Auchenorrhyncha) (unsprayed: 1-13 groups/0.5 m², sprayed: 0-9), total beetles (Coleoptera) (10-55 vs 2-40), weevils (Curculionidae) (0.3-5.0 vs 0-1.3), rove beetles (Staphylinidae) (0-30 vs 0-22), total flies (Diptera) (40-280 vs 20-240), chick-food insects (7-33 vs 2-25), total arthropods (80-1175 vs 40-1165) and spiders (Araneae) (2-40 vs 2-28) were significantly greater in the untreated plots compared to sprayed plots. Aphids (Aphididae), sawflies (Symphyta) and butterfly/moth (Lepidoptera) larvae did not differ between treatments. Field headlands were divided into (6-8) plots (100 x 6 m), half (and crops) were sprayed with herbicides in autumn and half were unsprayed. No insecticides or fungicides were applied. Plants were sampled in 10 quadrats (0.25 m²) per plot in May and late June/early July (1989-1991). Arthropods were sampled on five occasions (May-July), five samples were collected per plot using a D-Vac insect sampler.

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