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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Meadow harvesting techniques and their impacts on field fauna.

Published source details

Humbert J.Y., Ghazoul J. & Walter T. (2009) Meadow harvesting techniques and their impacts on field fauna. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 130, 1-8


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

Raise mowing height on grasslands to benefit farmland wildlife Farmland Conservation

A 2009 literature review (Humbert et al. 2009) found that cutting height has a large influence on mowing impact, with a raised cutting height being less damaging to field-dwelling animals. Three studies reported higher cutting heights were less damaging to invertebrates and amphibians (Löbbert et al. 1994, Classen et al. 1996, Oppermann et al. 2000).

Additional references:

Löbbert M., Kromer K.-H., Wieland C.C. (1994) Einfluss von Mäh- und Mulchgeräten auf die bodennahe Fauna [Influence of mowing and mulching equipment on ground fauna]. Pages 7–26 in: Forschungsberichte ‘‘Integrative Extensivierungs-und Naturschutzstrategien’’ H. 15. Universität Bonn, Institut für Landtechnik, Bonn.

Classen A., Hirler A., Oppermann R. (1996) Auswirkungen unterschiedlicher Mähgeräte auf die Wiesenfauna in Nordost-Polen [Effects of different mowing equipment on meadow fauna in northeast Poland]. Naturschutz und Landschaftsplanung, 28, 139–144.

Oppermann R., Handwerk J., Holsten M., & Krismann A. (2000) Naturverträgliche Mähtechnik für das Feuchtgrünland, Voruntersuchung für das E & E – Vorhaben [Nature-friendly mowing for wet grassland, preliminary study for E & E projects]. ILN Singen, Bonn.

Use mowing techniques to reduce mortality Farmland Conservation

A 2009 literature review (Humbert et al. 2009) of thirteen studies found marked differences in the number of small mammals, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates killed or damaged by different meadow harvesting techniques. Highest mortality was caused by flail and suction flail mowers, which killed or damaged on average 60% and 49% of the invertebrates studied, respectively. Rotary mowers with a conditioner were the next most damaging, killing/damaging on average 21% of amphibians and 35% of invertebrates studied. Bar mowers were the least damaging, with on average 11% mortality among amphibians and 18% among invertebrates. A single study showed that rotary disc mowers with conditioners caused double the number of small mammal deaths compared to double blade mowers (Oppermann et al. 2000). Three studies reported higher cutting heights were less damaging to field-dwelling animals (Löbbert et al. 1994, Classen et al. 1996, Oppermann et al. 2000). The review notes that later harvesting stages also have a considerable impact, especially the removal of baled grass. The collection of lines of mown grass for baling, had a greater impact on grasshopper (Orthoptera) populations than mowing (Oppermann et al. 2000). The review recommends leaving uncut grass strips when mowing to benefit field-dwelling organisms. It also notes that several of the studies reviewed were poorly replicated or designed.

Additional references:

Löbbert M., Kromer K.-H., Wieland C.C. (1994) Einfluss von Mäh- und Mulchgeräten auf die bodennahe Fauna [Influence of mowing and mulching equipment on ground fauna]. Pages 7-26 in: Forschungsberichte ‘‘Integrative Extensivierungs-und Naturschutzstrategien’’ H. 15. Universität Bonn, Institut für Landtechnik, Bonn.

Classen A., Hirler A., Oppermann R. (1996) Auswirkungen unterschiedlicher Mähgeräte auf die Wiesenfauna in Nordost-Polen [Effects of different mowing equipment on meadow fauna in northeast Poland]. Naturschutz und Landschaftsplanung, 28, 139-144.

Oppermann R., Handwerk J., Holsten M., & Krismann A. (2000) Naturverträgliche Mähtechnik für das Feuchtgrünland [Nature-friendly mowing for wet grassland, preliminary study for E & E projects]. In: Voruntersuchung für das E & E - Vorhaben, ILN Singen, Bonn.