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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: The SAFFIE project: enhancing the value of arable field margins for pollinating insects

Published source details

Pywell R.F., Meek W.M., Carvell C. & Hulmes L. (2007) The SAFFIE project: enhancing the value of arable field margins for pollinating insects. Aspects of Applied Biology, 81, 239-245


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

Plant grass buffer strips/margins around arable or pasture fields Farmland Conservation

A randomized, replicated, controlled trial from 2002 to 2006 in eastern England, UK (Pywell et al. 2007) (same study as Henderson et al. 2007, Ramsay et al. 2007) found that floristically enhanced grassy margins supported more bumblebees Bombus spp. and butterflies (Lepidoptera) than grass-only margins. For bees and butterflies, there was no difference in abundance or number of species between the grass and wildflower mix and the pollinating insect mix (35-47 bumblebees of four species and 18-20 butterflies of six species/125 m2 plot on average on the grass and wildflower mix and the pollinating insect mix, compared to 10 bumblebees of two species and 12 butterflies of five species on grass-only margins). Different types of management did not affect the abundance of bees and butterflies or the number of butterfly species, but there were more bumblebee species on plots treated with grass-specific herbicide in spring (average four species/125 m2, compared to three species on cut or disturbed plots). Field margin plots (6 x 30 m) were established in 2000-2001 using one of three seed mixes: Countryside Stewardship mix (seven grass species, sown at 20 kg/ha), tussock grass mix (seven grass species, 11 wildflowers, sown at 35 kg/ha) and a mixture of grasses and wildflowers designed for pollinating insects (four grass species, 16-20 wildflowers, sown at 35 kg/ha). The margins were managed in spring from 2003 to 2005 with one of three treatments: cut to 15 cm, soil disturbed by scarification until 60% of the area was bare ground, treated with grass-specific herbicide in spring at half the recommended rate. There were five replicates of each treatment combination, at three farms.

Plant nectar flower mixture/wildflower strips Farmland Conservation

A randomized, replicated, controlled trial from 2002 to 2006 in eastern England (Pywell et al. 2007) (same study as Henderson et al. 2007, Ramsay et al. 2007) found that field margins sown with a flower mix designed for pollinating insects did not support more butterflies (Lepidoptera) or bumblebees Bombus spp. than a floristically enhanced tussocky grass seed mixture. There were 35-47 bumblebees of four species and 18-20 butterflies of six species/125 m2 plot on average in margins sown with some non-grass species in the mix, compared to 10 bumblebees of two species and 12 butterflies of five species on grass-only margins. Different types of management did not affect the abundance of bees and butterflies or the number of butterfly species, but there were more bumblebee species on plots treated with grass-specific herbicide in spring (average 4 species/125 m2, compared to 3 species on cut or disturbed plots). Field margin plots (6 x 30 m) were established in 2000-2001 using one of three seed mixes: Countryside Stewardship mix (seven grass species, sown at 20 kg/ha), tussock grass mix (7 grass species, 11 wildflowers, sown at 35 kg/ha) and a mixture of grasses and wildflowers designed for pollinating insects (4 grass species, 16-20 wildflowers, sown at 35 kg/ha). Margins were managed in spring from 2003 to 2005 with one of three treatments: cut to 15 cm, soil disturbed by scarification until 60% of the area was bare ground, treated with grass-specific herbicide in spring at half the recommended rate. There were five replicates of each treatment combination on three farms.