Agri-environment schemes (AESs) are often developed and implemented in order to mitigate the negative effects of intensive agriculture, conserve biodiversity on farmland and increase agricultural sustainability. Many such widespread AESs aim to maintain or create field margin habitats, such as flower strips or hedgerows. Their effectiveness however can vary widely and recent meta-analyses highlight that, if we wish to achieve adequate AES design and implementation, factors influencing their effectiveness need to be further examined, especially those determining effects on ecosystem service delivery.
In light of that, a recent SHOWCASE paper, published in Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, set out to determine the most important factors influencing field margin AES effectiveness in commercial apple orchards, in terms of arthropod biodiversity conservation and ecosystem service provision. Researchers surveyed wild bees and aphid natural enemies in field margins and apple trees in 20 orchards, ten bordered by hedgerow field margins (an AES) and ten with herbaceous field margins (no hedgerows present, not an AES).
Read the full study here.
Photo: Typical a) hedgerow and b) herbaceous (control) field margins of the study sites.