Most agricultural landscapes are a mosaic of farmers' fields, semi-natural habitats, human infrastructures (e.g. roads) and occasional natural habitats. Within such landscapes, linear semi-natural habitats often define the edges of agricultural fields. This paper reviews the role and interactions within and between the flora of these elements. In temperate, intensive agriculture, such field margin habitats, which historically had true agricultural functions, now are important refugia for biodiversity. As manmade habitats, field margins may also have important cultural roles as part of our landscape heritage, e.g. hedges in Britain. Whilst field margins are not usually specific habitat types, they contain a variety of plant communities in a variety of structures. These may range from aquatic elements to ruderal and woodland communities. Studies demonstrate a variety of interactions between fields and their margins. Agricultural operations, such as fertiliser and pesticide application, have effects on the flora. Some margin flora may spread into crops, becoming field weeds. Margins also have a range of associated fauna, some of which may be pest species, while many are beneficial, either as crop pollinators or as pest predators. The biodiversity of the margin may be of particular importance for the maintenance of species at higher trophic levels, notably farmland birds, at the landscape scale. Margins contribute to the sustainability of production, by enhancing beneficial species within crops and reducing pesticide use. In northwestern Europe, a variety of methods to enhance diversity at field edges have been introduced, including sown grass and flower strips. The impact of these on weed flora and arthropods indicate mostly beneficial effects though conflicts exist, notably for the conservation of rare arable weed species. © 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Field margins in northern Europe: their functions and interactions with agriculture

MOONEN, Anna Camilla
2002-01-01

Abstract

Most agricultural landscapes are a mosaic of farmers' fields, semi-natural habitats, human infrastructures (e.g. roads) and occasional natural habitats. Within such landscapes, linear semi-natural habitats often define the edges of agricultural fields. This paper reviews the role and interactions within and between the flora of these elements. In temperate, intensive agriculture, such field margin habitats, which historically had true agricultural functions, now are important refugia for biodiversity. As manmade habitats, field margins may also have important cultural roles as part of our landscape heritage, e.g. hedges in Britain. Whilst field margins are not usually specific habitat types, they contain a variety of plant communities in a variety of structures. These may range from aquatic elements to ruderal and woodland communities. Studies demonstrate a variety of interactions between fields and their margins. Agricultural operations, such as fertiliser and pesticide application, have effects on the flora. Some margin flora may spread into crops, becoming field weeds. Margins also have a range of associated fauna, some of which may be pest species, while many are beneficial, either as crop pollinators or as pest predators. The biodiversity of the margin may be of particular importance for the maintenance of species at higher trophic levels, notably farmland birds, at the landscape scale. Margins contribute to the sustainability of production, by enhancing beneficial species within crops and reducing pesticide use. In northwestern Europe, a variety of methods to enhance diversity at field edges have been introduced, including sown grass and flower strips. The impact of these on weed flora and arthropods indicate mostly beneficial effects though conflicts exist, notably for the conservation of rare arable weed species. © 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
2002
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11382/200468
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