Provide buffer strips to reduce pesticide and nutrient run-off into margins, waterways and ponds
Overall effectiveness category Awaiting assessment
Number of studies: 1
Background information and definitions
In conventional farming, a wide range of chemicals are commonly applied for pest control or fertilization, but these can have lethal or sub-lethal effects on farmland wildlife, including butterflies and moths (Russell & Schultz 2010, Schultz et al. 2016). Chemicals can spread easily from farmland into adjacent habitats, either by drifting on the wind during spraying, or by leaching through the soil in water. Providing buffer strips with reduced or no chemical applications may reduce run-off into neighbouring habitats, as well as providing additional habitat in their own right.
For studies on restricting chemical applications at the edge of crops, see “Leave headlands in fields unsprayed (conservation headlands)”. For studies on restricting chemical applications across the farm, see “Reduce fertilizer, pesticide or herbicide use generally”. For studies on physically preventing chemicals from spreading to adjacent habitats, see “Use fencing to reduce pesticide and nutrient run-off into margins, waterways and ponds”.
Russell C. & Schultz C.B. (2010) Effects of grass-specific herbicides on butterflies: an experimental investigation to advance conservation efforts. Journal of Insect Conservation, 14, 53–63.
Schultz C.B., Zemaitis J.L., Thomas C.C., Bowers M.D. & Crone E.E. (2016) Non-target effects of grass-specific herbicides differ among species, chemicals and host plants in Euphydryas butterflies. Journal of Insect Conservation, 20, 867–877.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A replicated, paired, site comparison study in 2008 on 34 farms in central Scotland, UK (Fuentes-Montemayor et al. 2011) found that margins next to water bodies managed under agri-environment schemes (AES) had a higher abundance, but not species richness, of moths than conventionally-managed margins. In AES water margins, the abundance of micro-moths (113 individuals) and all macro-moths (498 individuals), and of declining macro-moths specifically (65 individuals), was higher than in conventionally-managed water margins (micro-moths: 58 individuals; all macro-moths: 236 individuals; declining macro-moths: 27 individuals). However, the species richness in AES margins (micro-moths: 25; all macro-moths: 48; declining macro-moths: 7 species) was not significantly different from conventional margins (micro-moths: 24; all macro-moths: 44; declining macro-moths: 12 species). In 2004, seventeen farms enrolled in AES, and were paired with 17 similar but conventionally-managed farms, <8 km away. On AES farms, >3-m-wide margins were established next to water bodies, and managed with restrictions on fertilizer and pesticide use, mowing and grazing. Margins on conventional farms had no management restrictions. From June–September 2008, moths were collected for four hours, on one night/farm, using a 6 W heath light trap located next to one margin on each farm. Paired farms were surveyed on the same night.Study and other actions tested