Conservation Evidence strives to be as useful to conservationists as possible. Please take our survey to help the team improve our resource.

Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Specific management regimes can reduce abundance of pernicious weeds in uncropped cultivated margins managed to maintain uncommon arable plant populations in the UK

Published source details

Critchley C.N.R. & Cook S.K. (2008) Long-term maintenance of uncommon plant populations in Agri-environment Scheme in England. Phase 1 Scoping Study. Defra/ADAS report.


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

Control weeds without damaging other plants in conservation areas Farmland Conservation

A 2008 review of control methods for competitive weeds in uncropped cultivated margins managed to maintain uncommon arable plant populations in the UK (Critchley & Cook 2008) found that specific management regimes can reduce abundance of pernicious weeds in margins. Abundance of pernicious weeds tended to increase if uncropped cultivated margins were not cultivated annually in two studies (Critchley 1996b, 2000a). However five studies found weeds also build up on margins cultivated annually, particularly with the same annual cultivation regime (Critchley 1996a,b, Critchley et al. 2004, Critchley et al. 2006, Still & Byfield 2007). Eight studies found that abundance of specific weed species depended on timing or method of cultivation (Marshall 1998, Critchley 2000b, Ford 2000, Critchley et al. 2004, Critchley et al. 2005, Critchley et al. 2006, Corsie 2007, Still & Byfield 2007). Rotating margin sites was found to reduce weed abundance in two studies (Davies et al. 1994, Wilson 2000) and four studies found specific timing, frequency and height of cutting decreased certain species (Marshall 1998, Carvell et al. 2004, Corsie 2007, Westbury et al. 2008). Twelve studies reported particular weed species could be targeted with specific timing of herbicide applications in different margin types (Boatman 1991, Varney et al. 1995, Wilson 1995, Marshall 1998, Boatman et al. 1999, Ford 2000, Marshall 2002, Boatman 2007, Corsie 2007, Meek et al. 2007, (Still 2007), Still & Byfield 2007). However, rare arable plant species can also be susceptible to specific management regimes (Wilson et al. 1990, Wilson 1995, Wilson & King 2003).

 

Additional references:

Wilson P.J., Boatman N.D. & Edwards P.J. (1990) Strategies for the conservation of endangered arable weeds in Great Britain. Proceedings of the EWRS Symposium 1990 - Integrated Weed Management in Cereals. European Weed Research Society, Wageningen, pp. 93-101.

Boatman N.D. (1991) Selective control of cleavers (Galium aparine) in conservation headlands with quinmerac. Brighton Crop Protection Conference - Weeds - 1991, 669-676.

Davies D.H.K. & Carnegie H.M. (1994) Vegetation patterns and changes in field boundaries and conservation headlands in Scottish arable fields. Pages 173-178 in: N. Boatman (ed.) Field Margins: Integrating Agriculture and Conservation, BCPC Monograph 58. British Crop Protection Council, Farnham.

Varney P.L., Scott T.A.J., Cooke J.S. & Ryan P.J. (1995) Clodinafop-propargyl – a useful tool for management of conservation headlands. Brighton Crop Protection Conference – Weeds - 1995, 967-972.

Wilson P.J. (1995) The potential for herbicide use in the conservation of Britain's arable flora. Brighton Crop Protection Conference - Weeds - 1995, 961-966.

Critchley C.N.R. (1996a) Monitoring as a feedback mechanism for the conservation management of arable plant communities. Aspects of Applied Biology, 44, 239-244.

Critchley C.N.R. (1996b) Vegetation of arable field margins in Breckland. PhD thesis, University of East Anglia.

Marshall E.J.P. (1998) Guidelines for the siting, establishment and management of arable field margins, beetle banks, cereal conservation headlands and wildlife seed mixtures. IACR report to MAFF.

Boatman N.D., Bence S. & Jarvis P. (1999) Management and costs of conservation headlands on heavy soil. Pages 147-154 in: N. D. Boatman, D. H. K. Davies, K. Chaney, R. Feber, G. R. de Snoo, & T. H. Sparks (eds.) Field margins and buffer zones: Ecology, Management and Policy, Aspects of Applied Biology 54.

Critchley C.N.R. (2000a) Ecological assessment of plant communities by reference to species traits and habitat preferences. Biodiversity and Conservation, 9, 87-105.

Critchley C.N.R. (2000b) The conservation ecology of arable plants: what role for research? Pages 80-87 in: P. Wilson & M. King (eds.) Fields of Vision. A Future for Britain’s Arable Plants. RSPB, Sandy.

Ford S. (2000) Can arable fields be managed specifically for arable plant communities? Pages 57-60 in: P. Wilson & M. King (eds.) Fields of Vision. A Future for Britain’s Arable Plants. RSPB, Sandy.

Wilson P.J. (2000) Management for the conservation of arable plant communities. Pages 38-47 in: P. Wilson & M. King (eds.) Fields of Vision. A Future for Britain’s Arable Plants. RSPB, Sandy.

Marshall E.J.P. (2002) Weeds and Biodiversity. Pages 75-92 in: R.E.L. Naylor (ed.) Weed Management Handbook (ninth edition). Blackwell Publishing.

Wilson P.J. & King M. (2003). Arable Plants - A Field Guide. English Nature/Wildguides Ltd.

Carvell C., Meek W.R., Pywell R.F., & Nowakowski M. (2004) The response of foraging bumblebees to successional change in newly created arable field margins. Biological Conservation, 118, 327-339.

Critchley C.N.R., Fowbert J.A. & Sherwood A.J. (2004) Botanical assessment of the Arable Stewardship Pilot Scheme, 2003. ADAS report to Defra.

Critchley C.N.R., Fowbert J.A. & Sherwood A.J. (2005) Re-assessment of uncropped wildlife strips in Breckland Environmentally Sensitive Area. ADAS report to Defra.

Critchley C.N.R., Fowbert J.A. & Sherwood A.J. (2006) The effects of annual cultivation on plant community composition of uncropped arable field boundary strips. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 113, 196-205.

Boatman N.B. (2007) Potential effects of Environmental Stewardship on arable weeds: uptake of options relevant to conservation of the arable flora and weed control issues. 44th BCPC Annual Weed Review, 2007. BCPC, Reading.

Corsie C. (2007) Worcestershire Wildlife Trust Important Arable Areas Project. Report to Plantlife International. Worcestershire Wildlife Trust, Worcester.

Meek W.R., Pywell R.F., Nowakowski M. & Sparks T.H. (2007) Arable field margin management techniques to enhance biodiversity and control barren brome, Anisantha sterilis. Pages 133-141 in: C. Britt, A. Cherrill, M. le Duc, R. Marrs, R. Pywell, T. Sparks, I. Willoughby (eds.) Vegetation Management, Aspects of Applied Biology 82.

Still K. & Byfield A. (2007) New priorities for arable plant conservation. Plantlife, Salisbury.

Westbury D.B., Woodcock B.A., Harris S.J., Brown V.K. & Potts S.G. (2008) The effects of seed mix and management on the abundance of desirable and pernicious unsown species in arable buffer strip communities. Weed Research, 48, 113-123.

Leave cultivated, uncropped margins or plots (includes 'lapwing plots') Farmland Conservation

A 2008 review of control methods for competitive weeds in uncropped cultivated margins managed to maintain uncommon arable plant populations in the UK (Critchley & Cook 2008) found that specific management regimes can reduce abundance of pernicious weeds in margins. One study found pernicious weeds were more likely in uncropped cultivated margins than in conservation or conventional headlands (Critchley et al. 2004). Abundance of perennial plants tended to increase if uncropped cultivated margins were not cultivated annually in two studies (Critchley 1996b, Critchley 2000). However five studies found weeds also build up on margins cultivated annually, particularly with the same annual cultivation regime (Critchley 1996a,b, Critchley et al. 2004, Critchley et al. 2006, Still & Byfield 2007). One study found cutting twice in spring decreased annual broadleaved plants in uncropped cultivated margins (Marshall 1998).

Additional references:

Critchley C.N.R. (1996a) Monitoring as a feedback mechanism for the conservation management of arable plant communities. Aspects of Applied Biology 44, 239-244.

Critchley C.N.R. (1996b) Vegetation of arable field margins in Breckland. PhD thesis, University of East Anglia.

Marshall E.J.P. (1998) Guidelines for the Siting, Establishment and Management of Arable Field Margins, Beetle Banks, Cereal Conservation Headlands and Wildlife Seed Mixtures. IACR report to MAFF.

Critchley C.N.R. (2000) Ecological assessment of plant communities by reference to species traits and habitat preferences. Biodiversity and Conservation 9, 87-105.

Critchley C.N.R., Fowbert J.A. & Sherwood A.J. (2004) Botanical assessment of the Arable Stewardship Pilot Scheme, 2003. ADAS report to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs April 2004.

Still K. & Byfield A. (2007) New Priorities for Arable Plant Conservation. Plantlife, Salisbury.

Leave headlands in fields unsprayed (conservation headlands) Farmland Conservation

A 2008 review of control methods for competitive weeds in field margins managed to maintain uncommon arable plant populations in the UK (Critchley & Cook 2008) found that specific management regimes can reduce abundance of pernicious weeds in margins. One study found pernicious weeds were more likely in uncropped cultivated margins than in conservation or conventional headlands (Critchley et al. 2004), two studies found the latter two did not differ in weed abundance (Pinke 1995, Fischer & Milberg 1997, Critchley et al. 2004). Three studies found lower weed abundance in fertilized conservation headlands (Pinke 1995, Wilson 2000). In naturally regenerated margins, fertilizer increased one grass species and decreased 10 out of 14 rare plant species (Wilson 2000, Meek et al. 2007).

Additional references:

Pinke G. (1995) The significance of unsprayed field edges as refugia for rare arable plants. Acta Agronomica Ovariensis 37, 1-11.

Wilson P.J. (2000) Management for the conservation of arable plant communities. Pages 38-47 in: P. Wilson & M. King (eds.) Fields of Vision. A Future for Britain’s Arable Plants. RSPB, Sandy.

Critchley C.N.R., Fowbert J.A. & Sherwood A.J. (2004) Botanical assessment of the Arable Stewardship Pilot Scheme, 2003. ADAS report to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs April 2004.

Meek W.R., Pywell R.F., Nowakowski M. & Sparks T.H. (2007) Arable field margin management techniques to enhance biodiversity and control barren brome, Anisantha sterilis. Pages 133-141 in: C. Britt, A. Cherrill, M. le Duc, R. Marrs, R. Pywell, T. Sparks, I. Willoughby (eds.) Vegetation Management (Aspects of Applied Biology 82).