The nature conservation value and ease of management of a conventional vesuses more species-rich grass ley at Wytham Hill, Oxfordshire, England

  • Published source details Smith H., & Macdonald D.W. (1997) Experimental comparison of the nature conservation value, productivity and ease of management of a conventional and a more species-rich grass ley. Journal of Applied Ecology, 34, 53-64


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 replicated, controlled, randomized study from 1987 to 1991 in Oxfordshire, England, UK (Smith et al. 1997) found that a grass ley sown with a species rich mix of grasses and wildflowers retained more sown plant species and had more naturally regenerating species than a conventionally sown ley. Loss of sown species increased at high fertilizer levels. Numbers of sown and naturally regenerating plant species were lower under a silage than a hay cutting regime. The more species-rich ley was less productive and so easier to manage by infrequent mowing. Field margins (7-9 m wide) were established in 1987 around three arable fields. In 1988 they were divided into 50 m-long plots and half (randomly assigned) in each field were sown with each grass ley mix: conventional (two grass and one clover Trifolium species) or a more species-rich mix, comprising six indigenous grasses and three forbs (excluding rye grass Lolium perenne and white clover T. repens).

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