Field edge management for game and wildlife conservation.
Farmers were questioned about the anticipated consequences of reducing herbicide use on cereal headlands, for the benefit of game and wildlife. Of the weed species thought likely to cause concern, Galium aparine was named by 59% of respondents, Bromus sterilis by 25%, and other species by less than 10%. A survey of weed incidence in 187 headlands and associated field boundaries on 17 farms showed that most species are characteristic of only one habitat type, but that G. aparine and B. sterilis, and the perennials Cirsium arvense, Elymus repens and Convolvulus arvensis, are common in both. For these species it appears that the field margin may act as a reservoir for field infestation. An experiment is described, in which the possibility of preventing such encroachment by treating a strip of soil between crop and hedge-bottom, with a residual herbicide, is investigated. The potential of this and other methods of weed management are discussed.