Extensive management of field margins enhance invertebrate diversity on livestock farms in Devon and Somerset England

  • Published source details Pilgrim E.S., Potts S.G. & Vickery J. (2007) Enhancing wildlife in the margins of intensively managed grass fields. Pages 293-296 in: J. Hopkins, A.J. Duncan, D.I. McCracken, S. Peel & J.R.B. Tallowin (eds.) ) High Value Grassland: Providing Biodiversity, a Clean Environment and Premium Products. British Grassland Society Occasional Symposium No.38. British Grassland Society (BGS), Reading.


This study was designed to investigate field margin management options that could benefit wildlife on intensive livestock farms in the UK.

Nine treatments were carried out in 50 x 10 m plots in permanent pasture fields. Each was replicated three times on each of four farms (twelve replicates). Treatments were: 1) control - fertilized, cut to 5cm in May and July, grazed in autumn/winter; 2) unfertilized; 3) cut to 10 cm not 5 cm; 4) no grazing; 5) single May cut, unfertilized; 6) single July cut, unfertilized; 7) no summer cuts, unfertilized; 8) sown with barley Hordeum vulgare and a grass and legume mix, uncut in May; 9) sown with a mix of crops including linseed Linum usitatissimum and legumes, uncut.

Plots were established in 2002, and monitored annually from 2003 to 2006. Sown plots (treatments 8 and 9) were re-sown in new plots each year. Legumes sown included white clover Trifolium repens, red clover T. pratense, common vetch Vicia sativa and bird's-foot trefoil Lotus corniculatus.

Plants, seed resources, invertebrates and birds were monitored using a range of methods.

Over five years, total invertebrate diversity was greatest in the extensive grassland treatments (5 to 7). There were clear successional changes in the communities of beetles (Coleoptera), true bugs (Heteroptera), spiders (Aranae) and butterflies (Lepidoptera).

More birds and more bird species used the sown treatments (8 and 9) in both summer and winter.

Note: If using or referring to this published study, please read and quote the original paper

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