Uncropped edges of arable fields managed for biodiversity do not increase weed occurrence in adjacent crops
Smith H., Firbank LG., MacDonald DW.
Ten experimental management regimes, designed to quantify benefits to weed control and wildlife conservation on uncropped field edges of expanded width, were examined for effects on the weed flora within adjacent arable crops. The treatments involved cutting, sowing and herbicide regimes, with differing effects on plant and invertebrate populations. The relative abundance of all plant species within the adjacent crop edge was monitored using permanent quadrats between 1987 and 1991. The field edge management regimes affected neither the total relative plant abundance, nor the relative abundance of most common species, within the adjacent crop edge. While frequencies of Arena spp were initially greatest adjacent to margins cut in spring and autumn, this effect was lost through time, and the greater abundance of Phleum pratense and Leucanthemum vulgare adjacent to the field edges in which they had been sown presented no threat to good husbandry. The management of uncropped arable field edges to enhance biodiversity is very unlikely to affect weed levels within the crop, especially where they contain, or are sown with, non-invasive perennial species.