Vegetation development in sown field margins and on adjacent ditch banks

J. Noordijk, C.J.M. Musters, G.R. de Snoo

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12 Citations (Scopus)


The creation of temporal and newly sown field margins for 6 years is a common agri-environment scheme (AES) in the Netherlands. Conservation profits resulting from AES vary over different areas and need further studying. We examined plant species richness in such field margins and adjacent ditch banks in the province of Zeeland, where these linear elements do not experience plant biomass removal after mowing as management strategy. First, during 2 years, we inventoried field margins sown with a wildflower mixture and related the species composition and richness to the age of the margins. In a second assessment, we studied plant species richness on ditch banks protected from arable fields by these margins. Major clusters in a principal component analysis (PCA) on species composition in the field margins showed a succession from sown and ruderal annual species (year 1), to sown perennial species (year 2) and ending with a dominance by tussock forming grass species and Urtica dioica (year 5–6). Total plant species richness decreased with increasing age of the margins, and this was caused by the combination of a decline in sown species and a stable number of not-sown species. The presence of field margins during several years did not result in an increase in plant species richness on adjacent ditch banks. In both the field margins and on the ditch banks, mowing management is not followed by the removal of the cuttings. For plant conservation, the results of these field margins are disappointing, probably due to the lack of a proper management. Therefore, we recommend implementing a hay-making and opening management, to increase plant richness and to reduce noxious weeds in the margins and on the ditch banks
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-167
JournalPlant Ecology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • agri-environment schemes
  • boundary vegetation
  • species composition
  • biodiversity
  • plant
  • management
  • diversity
  • drift
  • herbicide
  • habitats


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