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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Plant and invertebrate diversity in grassland field margins

Published source details

Sheridan H., Finn J.A., Culleton N. & O'Donovanc G. (2008) Plant and invertebrate diversity in grassland field margins. Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment, 123, 225-232


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Create uncultivated margins around intensive arable or pasture fields Farmland Conservation

A replicated, controlled trial from 2002-2004 in County Wexford, Ireland (Sheridan et al. 2008) found that 1.5-3.5 m wide margins of permanent pasture fields fenced to exclude livestock had more springtails (Collembola: Anthropleona) and spiders (Araneae) than control margins. Margins that were rotavated and left to naturally regenerate also had more flies (Diptera) and plant species than control plots. These margins had around 12 plant species/plot in 2002, degrading to just over 5 plant species/plot in 2004, compared to less than five plant species/plot throughout the study in control plots and unrotavated fenced margins. Some undesirable weeds, such as broad-leaved dock Rumex obtusifolius established in rotavated plots. Margin width made no difference to plant species richness. Allowing grazing on half of each plot from 2003-2004 (one year after margin establishment) did not affect the number of plant species the following year. Plots were 30 m long, with three replicates of each treatment combination. Plants were monitored in permanent quadrats in July 2002, May and July 2003 and May 2004. Invertebrates were sampled in six emergence traps per plot, between May and September 2003. Ground areas under the emergence traps were sampled with a vacuum sampler.

Plant nectar flower mixture/wildflower strips Farmland Conservation

A replicated controlled trial from 2002-2004 in County Wexford, Ireland (Sheridan et al. 2008) found that 1.5-3.5 m-wide margins of permanent pasture fields fenced, rotavated and sown with a wildflower seed mix had more springtails (Collembola: Anthropleona), spiders (Araneae), flies (Diptera) and plant species than control margins. Wildflower margins had 18 plant species/plot in July 2002, decreasing to 11 plant species/plot in 2004, compared to less than 5 plant species/plot throughout the study in control plots and unrotavated fenced margins. Some undesirable weeds, such as broad-leaved dock Rumex obtusifolius, established in rotavated plots, but were less abundant in plots sown with wildflower mix (broad-leaved dock cover was 6-25% in wildflower sown plots and 26-50% in naturally regenerated plots in 2002 and 2004). Grazing on half of each plot from 2003 to 2004 (one year after margin establishment) did not affect the number of plant species the following year. Plots were 30 m long (1.5-3.5 m-wide), with three replicates of each treatment combination. The wildflower mix had 10 grass species and 31 non-grass species. Plants were monitored in permanent quadrats in July 2002, May and July 2003 and May 2004. Invertebrates were sampled in six emergence traps/plot, between May and September 2003. Ground areas under the emergence traps were sampled with a vacuum sampler.