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New and modified approaches to undersowing and ley management for enhancement of biodiversity on arable land - BD1609

Undersowing of cereal crops with a grass and legume mix provides environmental benefits in terms of plant, insect and bird biodiversity, and may offer biocontrol benefits to surrounding crops. In this study, cost effective methods of enhancing the biodiversity of arable land by new or modified approaches to undersowing and ley management will be investigated. Spring cereals will be undersown with one of 3 different grass and legume mixtures (ryegrass/white clover, a structured conservation grass mixture and a conservation legume mixture) in order to examine effects of ley management on plant and insect biodiversity as well as quantify the changes in biodiversity associated with leaving the sward in place for 1 or 2 seasons,. Following the cereal crop harvest, each ley type will be either sheep-grazed, mown or left unmanaged. Agronomic variables, botanical composition, sward structure and invertebrate biodiversity will be assessed over the course of the trial. In a second study, changes in biodiversity, and relationships between insect and bird biodiversity, associated with a novel approach for establishment of undersown swards will be studied. Winter barley will be undersown with either a red clover/grass mix or a pure legume (sanfoin), by direct drilling into either the crop in spring, or the stubble immediately after harvest, and investigated for agronomic factors , botanical composition and biodiversity of invertebrate and bird species. For each study, cost-benefit analyses will be conducted. Guidelines will be provided for modifying the establishment and management of undersown swards in arable systems to enhance biodiversity. Results will provide a basis for the provision of advice and information in relation to the use of costed undersowing and ley management options within arable systems.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 1999

To: 2001

Cost: £233,052
Contractor / Funded Organisations
British Trust For Ornithology, CABI Bioscience, Institute of Grassland and Environment Research (IGER)
Agricultural Land              
Environmental Protection              
Fields of Study
Environmental Stewardship