Managing agri-environment grass fields and margins for Orthoptera and farmland birds

  • Published source details Smith D.W. (2006) Managing agri-environment grass fields and margins for Orthoptera and farmland birds. PhD Thesis. University of Reading.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Plant grass buffer strips/margins around arable or pasture fields

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Plant grass buffer strips/margins around arable or pasture fields

    A replicated study in 2003-2004 in Devon, UK (Smith 2006) found that the density of the meadow grasshopper Chorthippus parallelus was significantly higher in 6 m-margins than 2 m-wide margins (study does not distinguish between sown and naturally regenerated margins), grazed pasture or long-term set-aside. Two-metre-wide margins supported higher meadow grasshopper densities than intensively grazed pastures, but Countryside Stewardship SchemeĀ P1 pastures (lightly grazed). Within the 6 m-margins, grasshoppers were more abundant on the outer edge (adjacent to the crop) than on the inner edge (adjacent to a hedge). Meadow grasshoppers were found at highest densities in swards measuring between 30 and 50 cm tall. At low abundances, dock species Rumex spp. and cocksfoot Dactylis glomerata had a positive impact on meadow grasshopper density, but a negative impact at high abundances. Meadow grasshopper density was negatively impacted by bare ground and rye grasses Lolium spp. Fifteen farms were surveyed, 12 were subject to a Countryside Stewardship Scheme prescription and of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme farms, three were organic production systems. Five habitat types were surveyed: intensive dairy pasture, long-term set-aside, Countryside Stewardship Scheme P1 grazed pasture, Countryside Stewardship Scheme 2 m-wide field margin, Countryside Stewardship Scheme 6 m-wide field margin. Forty-one arable field margins were studied. Thirty-six of the margins were established through sowing (study does not specify seed mixture), the remaining five were naturally regenerated. Margins were all cut, but at different frequencies and to different extents in July-August. Grasshoppers were surveyed between July and September in 2003, and July-August in 2004. Two sample blocks (2 x 30 m) were set up in long-term set-aside, grazed pasture and intensive dairy pasture, one at the field edge and one 30 m from the field edge. In fields with margins, one sample block (2 x 30 m for 2 m margins; 6 x 30 m for 6 m margins) was established at the field edge. Grasshoppers were sampled in 0.5 m2 box quadrats. Vegetation height and cover were measured in five 0.5 m2 quadrats.

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