The value of sown grass margins for enhancing soil macrofaunal biodiversity in arable systems

  • Published source details Smith J., Potts S. & Eggleton P. (2008) The value of sown grass margins for enhancing soil macrofaunal biodiversity in arable systems. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 127, 119-125.


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 paired, replicated, controlled study in spring 2006 in Berkshire, UK (Smith et al. 2008a) found that earthworms (Lumbricidae), woodlice (Isopoda), and rove beetles (Staphylinidae), as well as three main feeding groups (litter consumers, soil ingesters and predators) had higher abundance and species density in sown grass strips compared with the field bean crop. However the presence of grass strips did not increase soil macrofaunal diversity outside the field margin in either the adjacent crop, or under the adjacent hedgerow. The species composition of soil macrofaunal communities in grass strips was different compared with other habitats on a within-field and a within-farm scale. Six metre wide grass strips were established and managed according to the Countryside Stewardship Scheme guidelines in 2000-2001. Soil core samples were collected in April-May along transects perpendicular to paired hedgerow boundaries at 0 m (under hedge), 3 m (in grass strip/crop), and 9 and 27 m into the crop. Five other habitats were sampled for the within-farm analysis (winter wheat fields, pasture, set-aside, coniferous Pinus sylvestris plantation, and broadleaf plantation) in May.

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