Study

The effectiveness of agri-environment schemes for the conservation of farmland moths: Assessing the importance of a landscape-scale management approach

  • Published source details Fuentes-Montemayor E., Goulson D. & Park K.J. (2011) The effectiveness of agri-environment schemes for the conservation of farmland moths: Assessing the importance of a landscape-scale management approach. Journal of Applied Ecology, 48, 532-542.

Actions

This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Provide buffer strips to reduce pesticide and nutrient run-off into margins, waterways and ponds

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation

Restore arable land to permanent grassland

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation

Reduce fertilizer, pesticide or herbicide use generally

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation

Create beetle banks

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation

Increase the proportion of natural or semi‐natural habitat in the farmed landscape

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation

Manage hedgerows to benefit wildlife (e.g. no spray, gap-filling and laying)

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation

Reduce management intensity on permanent grasslands (several interventions at once)

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation

Plant grass buffer strips/margins around arable or pasture fields

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation

Pay farmers to cover the costs of conservation measures (as in agri-environment schemes or conservation incentives)

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation
  1. Provide buffer strips to reduce pesticide and nutrient run-off into margins, waterways and ponds

    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.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

  2. Restore arable land to permanent grassland

    A replicated, paired, site comparison study in 2008 on 32 farms in central Scotland, UK (Fuentes-Montemayor et al. 2011) found that species-rich grassland created under agri-environment schemes (AES) had a higher abundance and species richness of micro- and macro-moths than conventionally-managed grassland or crop fields. In created AES species-rich grasslands, the abundance (156 individuals) and species richness (24 species) of micro-moths, the species richness of all macro-moths (46 species), and the abundance of declining macro-moths (44 individuals) were all higher than in improved grasslands or crop fields on conventional farms (micro-moths: 43 individuals, 19 species; all macro-moths: 33 species; declining macro-moths: 21 individuals). However, the abundance of all macro-moths (366 individuals) and species richness of declining macro-moths (10 species) on created AES species-rich grasslands was not significantly different from improved grasslands or crop fields (all macro-moths: 271 individuals; declining macro-moths: 9 species). In 2004, sixteen farms enrolled in AES, and were paired with 16 similar but conventionally-managed farms, <8 km away. On AES farms, species-rich grassland was created on former arable or improved grassland fields by sowing a low productivity grass and herb seed mix, and managed with fertilizer and pesticide restrictions, and no summer cutting or grazing. Improved pastures and crop fields 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 in one field on each farm. Paired farms were surveyed on the same night.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

  3. Reduce fertilizer, pesticide or herbicide use generally

    A replicated, paired, site comparison study in 2008 on 36 farms in central Scotland, UK (Fuentes-Montemayor et al. 2011) reported that farms managed with reduced chemical inputs (alongside other agri-environment scheme (AES) options) had a greater abundance and species richness of moths than conventionally-managed farms. Results were not tested for statistical significance. On farms managed with reduced chemical input under AES, 390 individuals of 51 species of micro-moth were recorded, compared to 199 individuals of 43 species on conventionally-managed farms. On AES farms, 1,377 individuals of 71 species of all macro-moths, and 159 individuals of 13 species of declining macro-moths, were recorded, compared to conventional farms where 917 individuals of 61 species of all macro-moths and 111 individuals of 17 species of declining macro-moth were recorded. In 2004, eighteen farms enrolled in AES, and were paired with 18 similar but conventionally managed farms, <8 km away. Each AES farm had at least three of four features (hedgerows, sown grass field margins or banks, sown species-rich grassland, >3-m-wide waterway margins) all with reduced chemical inputs and relaxed cutting and grazing regimes compared to similar habitat features on the conventional farms. From June–September 2008, moths were collected for four hours, on one night/farm, using 6 W heath light traps located next to each habitat type (3–4 traps/farm, ≥100 m apart). Paired farms were surveyed on the same night.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

  4. Create beetle banks

    A replicated, paired, site comparison study in 2008 on 30 farms in central Scotland, UK (Fuentes-Montemayor et al. 2011) found that beetle banks and grass field margins managed under agri-environment schemes (AES) had a higher abundance and species richness of micro-moths, but not macro-moths than conventionally-managed field margins. In AES beetle banks and field margins, both the abundance (57 individuals) and species richness (24 species) of micro-moths were higher than in conventional field margins (abundance: 17 individuals; richness: 8 species). However, the abundance (294 individuals) and species richness (34 species) of all macro-moths, and the abundance (24 individuals) and species richness (6 species) of declining macro-moths on AES banks and margins were not significantly different from conventional margins (all macro-moths: 207 individuals, 38 species; declining macro-moths: 32 individuals, 10 species). In 2004, fifteen farms enrolled in AES, and were paired with 15 similar but conventionally-managed farms, <8 km away. On AES farms, 1.5–6-m-wide beetle banks or field margins were sown with grass mixes, and managed with restrictions on grazing and fertilizer and pesticide use. Field 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 bank or margin on each farm. Paired farms were surveyed on the same night.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

  5. Increase the proportion of natural or semi‐natural habitat in the farmed landscape

    A replicated, site comparison study in 2008 on 36 farms in central Scotland, UK (Fuentes-Montemayor et al. 2011) found that farms with more semi-natural habitat had a higher abundance and species richness of moths than farms with less semi-natural habitat. The abundance of both micro-moths and macro-moths, and the species richness of macro-moths, were all higher on farms with more semi-natural habitat (data presented as model results). However, the species richness of micro-moths, and the diversity of both groups, was similar between farms with more and less semi-natural habitat (data presented as model results). In 2004, eighteen farms enrolled in agri-environment schemes, and were paired with 18 similar but conventionally-managed farms, <8 km away. From June–September 2008, moths were collected for four hours, on one night/farm, using a 6 W heath light trap located next to either a field margin, watercourse margin, beetle bank, hedgerow or grassland on each farm. Paired farms were surveyed on the same night.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

  6. Manage hedgerows to benefit wildlife (e.g. no spray, gap-filling and laying)

    A replicated, paired, site comparison study in 2008 on 26 farms in central Scotland, UK (Fuentes-Montemayor et al. 2011) found that hedgerows managed under agri-environment schemes (AES) had a similar abundance and species richness of moths to conventionally-managed hedgerows. In AES hedgerows, the abundance (64 individuals) and species richness (25 species) of micro-moths, the abundance (219 individuals) and species richness (33 species) of all macro-moths, and the abundance (26 individuals) and species richness (6 species) of declining macro-moths were all similar to conventionally-managed hedgerows (micro-moths: 81 individuals, 25 species; all macro-moths: 203 individuals, 32 species; declining macro-moths: 31 individuals, 7 species). In 2004, thirteen farms enrolled in AES, and were paired with 13 similar but conventionally-managed farms, <8 km away. Hedgerows on AES farms had gaps filled, and were managed with restrictions on pesticide use, no mowing of the hedge bottom, and were only cut once every three years with further restrictions on timing. Hedgerows 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 hedgerow on each farm. Paired farms were surveyed on the same night.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

  7. Reduce management intensity on permanent grasslands (several interventions at once)

    A replicated, paired, site comparison study in 2008 on 32 farms in central Scotland, UK (Fuentes-Montemayor et al. 2011) found that created species-rich grassland managed at low intensity had a higher abundance and species richness of micro- and macro-moths than conventionally-managed grassland or crop fields. In low intensity grasslands, the abundance (156 individuals) and species richness (24 species) of micro-moths, the species richness of all macro-moths (46 species), and the abundance of declining macro-moths (44 individuals) were all higher than in improved grasslands or crop fields on conventional farms (micro-moths: 43 individuals, 19 species; all macro-moths: 33 species; declining macro-moths: 21 individuals). However, the abundance of all macro-moths (366 individuals) and species richness of declining macro-moths (10 species) on low intensity grasslands was not significantly different from improved grasslands or crop fields (all macro-moths: 271 individuals; declining macro-moths: 9 species). In 2004, sixteen farms enrolled in agri-environment schemes, and were paired with 16 similar but conventionally-managed farms, <8 km away. On agri-environment scheme farms, species-rich grassland was created on former arable or improved grassland fields by sowing a low productivity grass and herb seed mix, and managed with fertilizer and pesticide restrictions, and no summer cutting or grazing. Improved pastures and crop fields 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 in one field on each farm. Paired farms were surveyed on the same night.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

  8. Plant grass buffer strips/margins around arable or pasture fields

    A replicated, paired, site comparison study in 2008 on 30 farms in central Scotland, UK (Fuentes-Montemayor et al. 2011) found that grass field margins and beetle banks managed under agri-environment schemes (AES) had a higher abundance and species richness of micro-moths, but not macro-moths, than conventionally-managed field margins. In AES field margins and beetle banks, both the abundance (57 individuals) and species richness (24 species) of micro-moths were higher than in conventional field margins (abundance: 17 individuals; richness: 8 species). However, the abundance (294 individuals) and species richness (34 species) of all macro-moths, and the abundance (24 individuals) and species richness (6 species) of declining macro-moths on AES margins and banks were not significantly different from conventional margins (all macro-moths: 207 individuals, 38 species; declining macro-moths: 32 individuals, 10 species). In 2004, fifteen farms enrolled in AES, and were paired with 15 similar but conventionally-managed farms, <8 km away. On AES farms, 1.5–6-m-wide field margins or beetle banks were sown with grass mixes, and managed with restrictions on grazing and fertilizer and pesticide use. Field 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 or bank on each farm. Paired farms were surveyed on the same night.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

  9. Pay farmers to cover the costs of conservation measures (as in agri-environment schemes or conservation incentives)

    A replicated, paired, site comparison study in 2008 on 36 farms in central Scotland, UK (Fuentes-Montemayor et al. 2011) reported that farms managed under agri-environment schemes (AES) had a higher abundance and species richness of moths than conventionally-managed farms. Results were not tested for statistical significance. On AES farms, 390 individuals of 51 species of micro-moth were recorded, compared to 199 individuals of 43 species on conventionally-managed farms. On AES farms, 1,377 individuals of 71 species of all macro-moths, and 159 individuals of 13 species of declining macro-moths, were recorded, compared to conventional farms where 917 individuals of 61 species of all macro-moths and 111 individuals of 17 species of declining macro-moth were recorded. In 2004, eighteen farms enrolled in AES, and were paired with 18 similar but conventionally-managed farms, <8 km away. Each AES farm had at least three of four features (hedgerows, sown grass field margins or banks, sown species-rich grassland, >3-m-wide waterway margins) all with reduced chemical inputs and relaxed cutting and grazing regimes compared to similar habitat features on the conventional farms. From June–September 2008, moths were collected for four hours, on one night/farm, using 6 W heath light traps located next to each habitat type (3–4 traps/farm, ≥100 m apart). Paired farms were surveyed on the same night.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

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