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The effects of seed mix and management on the abundance of desirable and pernicious unsown species in arable buffer strip communities

By D. B. Westbury, B. A. Woodcock, S. J. Harris, V. K. Brown and S. G. Potts


Buffer strips are refuges for a variety of plants providing\ud resources, such as pollen, nectar and seeds, for higher\ud trophic levels, including invertebrates, mammals and\ud birds. Margins can also harbour plant species that are\ud potentially injurious to the adjacent arable crop (undesirable\ud species). Sowing perennial species in non-cropped\ud buffer strips can reduce weed incidence, but limits the\ud abundance of annuals with the potential to support\ud wider biodiversity (desirable species). We investigated\ud the responses of unsown plant species present in buffer\ud strips established with three different seed mixes managed\ud annually with three contrasting management\ud regimes (cutting, sward scarification and selective graminicide).\ud Sward scarification had the strongest influence\ud on the unsown desirable (e.g. Sonchus spp.) and unsown\ud pernicious (e.g. Elytrigia repens) species, and was generally\ud associated with higher cover values of these\ud species. However, abundances of several desirable weed\ud species, in particular Poa annua, were not promoted by\ud scarification. The treatments of cutting and graminicide\ud tended to have negative impacts on the unsown species,\ud except for Cirsium vulgare, which increased with graminicide\ud application. Differences in unsown species cover\ud between seed mixes were minimal, although the grassonly\ud mix was more susceptible to establishment by\ud C. vulgare and Galium aparine than the two grass and\ud forb mixes. Annual scarification can enable desirable\ud annuals and sown perennials to co-exist, however, this\ud practice can also promote pernicious species, and so is\ud unlikely to be widely adopted as a management tool in\ud its current form.\u

Topics: Ecology and Environment
Year: 2008
DOI identifier: 10.1111/j.1365-3180.2007.00614.x
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