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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Development of biodiversity in field margins recently taken out of production and adjacent ditch banks in arable areas

Published source details

Musters C.J.M., Alebeek F.V., Geers R.H.E.M., Korevaar H., Visser A. & Snoo G.R.D. (2009) Development of biodiversity in field margins recently taken out of production and adjacent ditch banks in arable areas. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 129, 131-139


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 series of three replicated trials in the Netherlands (Musters et al. 2009) found that the number of plant species in field margins and adjacent ditch banks increased in the four years following establishment of 2-3 m-wide sown grass and wildflower field margins. More field margins and ditch banks showed a decline in cover of agricultural weeds following margin establishment. For both butterflies (Lepidoptera) and dragonflies (Odonata), more than half the transects showed increased species diversity in field margins, in the two to eight years following the establishment of margins. Ninety field margins at least 2 m-wide were established on 21 farms across the Netherlands and monitored for two to six years. On 20 of the farms, 107 ditch banks alongside 3 m wide field margins were also monitored. Most margins were planted with grasses. All margins and ditch banks were mown at least once a year and cuttings removed. Plant species richness was measured in permanent quadrats or sections. Butterflies were counted in 50 m transect counts along field margins on six farms, and dragonflies on five farms. Transect counts were either every week, or two to five times during summer.