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Title: Multifunctional field margin vegetative strips for the support of ecosystem services : pollination, bio-control and water quality protection
Author: Cresswell, Claire J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 8503 513X
Awarding Body: Harper Adams University
Current Institution: Harper Adams University
Date of Award: 2019
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Vegetative strips in farmland field margins are a proven source of support for ecosystem services and are globally used to mitigate the effects of agricultural intensification. However, the increasing pressures on agricultural land command an increase in their functionality, to support multiple ecosystem services concurrently. The plant species sown in a vegetative strip seed mix determine the establishment, resulting plant community and ecosystem services supported. With no defined or structured method of vegetative strip design currently available, systematically collated evidence on plant traits was used to develop such a method in Chapters 2 and 3. In Chapter 4 the developed method is shown to potentially improve the likelihood of establishment and persistence of sown species in the designed multifunctional and single-focus vegetative strips, but significant effects of soil type were identified. Chapters 5-7 demonstrate the benefits and drawbacks of multifunctional compared with single-focus strips, in support of ecosystem services. The multifunctional strip with an in increased proportion of forb species (from 20% to 50%) provided the highest and most diverse floral support for pollinators and aerial natural enemies, and vegetative diversity for surface active natural enemies. This strip also provided comparable support for protection against watercourse sedimentation, to the other vegetative strips, but may have decreased support for protection against run-off and pesticide spray-drift. The exponentially increasing global human population continues to place more pressures on agricultural production and wildlife habitats. With regulating ecosystem services playing such an important role in agricultural production, a balance between support for agriculture and wildlife must be struck, otherwise we could continue to see huge losses in both. Increasing the functionality of vegetative strips in farmland field margins could support improved crop yield, protect water quality and provide support for biodiversity at the same time. The method of vegetative strip design developed in this project is an important step towards evidence-informed plant species selection, and it has been proven to produce vegetative strips that can establish and provide support for their target ecosystem services within the first three years. Further research is proposed that could strengthen the developed method of vegetative strip design and further support the findings from this article. With this research, these multifunctional strips have the potential to be part of the solution to alleviate the mounting pressures on agriculture and wildlife and even enhance agricultural production and the environment.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available