Management and costs of conservation headlands on heavy soil.
The management and costs of conservation headlands (a system of modified pesticide use on the outer six metres of cereal crops, to increase crop edge biodiversity and provide specific conservation benefits) on heavy soil were investigated. Field trials showed arnidosulfuron to be well suited to the control of Galium aparine in conservation headlands, removing this pernicious species effectively and selectively, whilst providing some suppression of other broad-leaved weed species. Farm-scale trials confirmed the effectiveness of the herbicide programme in terms of levels of desired and undesirable weed species in the conservation headlands, compared to fully sprayed plots. Estimated yield losses and records of herbicide and spray application costs were used to calculate profit foregone due to conservation headland management. The implications of changes in crop value and reduced yields at field margins compared to midfield on profit foregone are considered. It is concluded that, with modem herbicide chemistry, conservation headlands can be implemented successfully on heavy soils at moderate cost, with little overall effect on crop productivity.