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The management of field boundaries and refuge areas to improve conservation value and optimise benefit to farming - BD0401

Description
The overall aim of this study will be to provide guidance on economically sound management of field boundaries to provide benefits of increased biological diversity. Management methods for farmland features (hedges, ditches, woodland edges and rides) that maximise their wildlife potential within a viable farming system will be investigated on a range of study sites. Studies conducted on hedge management techniques will include: effects of 3 methods of ground vegetation control on establishment of hedges on upland farms; effects of 3 weed control methods on promoting the growth of 2-3 year old hedges on uplands, together with the effects of these methods on adjacent field vegetation; comparison of 2 techniques for relieving competition from the hedge and from weeds and to assess the benefits of tree guards during the establishment of trees in hedgerows; impacts of 4 management techniques (involving coppicing and laying) on the shelter, stockproofing and wildlife benefits of 5-6 year old thorn hedges on an upland farm; determination of effective means of maintaining the stockproofing quality of hedges through control of climbing weeds and to assess implications for conservation; effects of fencing, laying coppicing and replanting on restoration of stock damaged hedges; and determination of hedge management techniques that maximise small mammal populations of field boundaries. A strategy of field margin management will then be developed. In addition, guidelines will be provided on methods for setting aside a 15 m headland of a cropped field to maximise the protection and wildlife benefits afforded to an adjacent valuable field margin in the form of a hedge, ditch and woodland edge. Guidelines will also be provided on ditch management through investigations on the effects of different cutting regimes on flora, fauna and flow rates and methods relating ditch vegetation to ditch efficiency. Management options will be provided for enhancing the wildlife conservation value of woodland rides and woodland edges in the initial stages of establishment of farm woodlands planted with a perennial ryegrass sward on agricultural land.
Objective
To determine effective means of establishing hedges on upland farms using three methods of ground vegetation control. To promote the growths of 2-3 year old hedges on uplands using three methods of weed control, with and without fertiliser, and to assess the effects of these methods on adjacent field vegetation. To compare two techniques of relieving competition from the hedge and from weeds and to assess the benefits of tree guards during the establishment of trees in hedgerows. To assess the effects of four kinds of management involving coppicing and laying, on the shelter, stockproofing and wildlife benefits of 5-6 years old thorn hedges on an upland farm. To determine effective means of maintaining the stockproofing qualities of hedges through control of climbing weeds (clematis, rose, bramble) and to assess implications for conservation. To determine the effectiveness of fencing, laying , coppicing and replanting as techniques for restoring stock damaged hedges to fulfil stockproofing requirements and to retain wildlife value. To determine hedge management techniques that maximise small mammal populations of field boundaries. To develop a strategy of field margin management examining the effects of four boundary treatments on the flora and fauna of the hedge, boundary strip and adjacent cereal crop. To provide guidelines on methods for setting aside a 15m headland of cropped field to maximise the protection and wildlife benefits afforded to an adjacent valuable field margin in the form of a hedge, ditch and woodland edge. To provide guidelines for ditch management through investigations on the effects of different cutting regimes on flora, fauna and flow rates and to consider methods of relating ditch vegetation to ditch efficiency. To provide management options for enhancing the wildlife conservation values of woodland rides and woodland edge in the initial stages of establishment of farm woodlands planted with a perennial ryegrass sward on agricultural land.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 1991

To: 1995

Cost: £872,000
Contractor / Funded Organisations
ADAS UK Ltd., Central Science Laboratory
Keywords
              
Fields of Study
Environmental Stewardship