Sown field margins: why stop at grass?

  • Published source details Smith H., Feber R. & MacDonald D. (1999) Sown field margins: why stop at grass?. Aspects of Applied Biology, 54, 275-282.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Plant nectar flower mixture/wildflower strips

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Plant nectar flower mixture/wildflower strips

    A replicated, randomized study from 1987 to 1992 in Oxfordshire, UK (Smith et al. 1999) found that species richness and abundance of sown plant species were higher in 1.5 m-wide extensions to margins than the original margin sections (0.5 m-wide). Species richness of sown wildflowers was significantly higher in new compared to old sections (3.6-6.3 vs 0.1-0.9/species quadrat), frequencies of species showed the same pattern. After three years, the original margin sections only had 20% of the species found in the new margins. Cutting in spring and autumn increased the number of species (6-7/quadrat), whereas under other treatments numbers declined sharply in the first year after sowing (from 6 to 4 species) and remained significantly lower (uncut: 4, summer cut: 3-4, spring/summer cut, 4-5). There was no significant difference between numbers in margins cut once or uncut. Individual species showed a range of responses to cutting regimes. Plants were sampled in three permanent quadrats (50 x 100 m) at 10 m intervals in existing and new sections of margins. Relative frequencies were recorded as presence/absence in eight sub-sections of the quadrat four times/year from July-September. This study is part of the same study design as Feber et al. 1994, Feber et al. 1996, Baines et al. 1998, Bell et al. 1999, Haughton et al. 1999, Bell et al. 2002, Smith et al. 2010.

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