Intensive agriculture has contributed to serious declines in the diversity and geographic range of the UK arable flora. The agri-environment schemes have a number of management options which aim to conserve and enhance populations of scarce arable plants. Research suggests that competition from perennial and grass species is a serious constraint on the long term success of these management prescriptions. We present the results of a 2 year split-plot randomised block experiment to examine the effects of 1) herbicide weed control measures and 2) time of cultivation on the survival and spread of a sown scarce arable plant community. Autumn and spring graminicide application significantly reduced the cover of competitive grasses and increased the species richness of scarce arable plants. Autumn cultivation significantly increased the cover and species richness of scarce arable plants, and reduced the cover of grasses. The results are discussed in the context of future agri-environment scheme prescriptions for the practical, in situ and rotational management of arable plant communities
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