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Creation and management of pollen and nectar habitats on farmland

By R. F. Pywell, W. R. Meek, L. Hulmes and M. Nowakowski

Abstract

Intensive agriculture has contributed to serious declines in abundance and diversity of pollinating insects. The agri-environment schemes (AES) aim to conserve and enhance the pollination service to crops and wildflowers by providing habitats rich in pollen and nectar. Research suggests that current management prescriptions are failing to provide habitats of sufficient quality and longevity. We investigated the performance of 10 low cost seed mixtures over 3 years. The seed mixtures comprised legume species sown with grasses of differing competitive ability. The typical practice of sowing tall and competitive grass species significantly reduced cover of legume species over time. Persistence of legumes was significantly better in mixtures sown either without grasses, or with fine-leaved grasses. Winter application of graminicide in year 3 resulted in reduced competition from grasses, and an increased cover of sown forbs and undesirable weed species. This resulted in significantly a higher abundance and diversity of bumblebee species

Topics: Agriculture and Soil Science, Ecology and Environment
Publisher: Association of Applied Biologists
Year: 2010
OAI identifier: oai:nora.nerc.ac.uk:9638
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