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Vegetation diversity of conventional and organic hedgerows in Denmark

Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment

Abstract

Many attempts have been made to reduce the impact of modern conventional farming on the environment and semi-natural ecosystems. One of them is organic farming, known primarily for the absence of pesticides and artificial fertilisers. The objective of this study was to study and test the differences in the spontaneous vegetation of comparable hedgerows in the same area situated within organic and conventional fanning systems. The hedge bottom vegetation was surveyed during August 2001 in 13 hedgerows of each farming system. Farming type had not changed on either side of the hedgerows for the lifetime of the hedges (10-14 years). Sampling was associated with a set of 16 measured environmental variables. In the two farming systems hedgerows were comparable in terms of landscape, age, soil type, nutrient status and width. A mixed analysis of variance (ANOVA) found no significant difference in measured soil and radiation variables between farming types. Fanning types only differed in the use of pesticides. Significant differences between farming types in plant species diversity at alpha, beta and gamma levels were found. More species that are normal in semi-natural habitats were found on organic farms. There was an overlap in species composition between farming type, but a slightly higher species turnover on conventional farms. The ordination axes were highly correlated with calibrated Ellenberg values of fertility, light and soil moisture. Soil fertility and farming type were important factors to explain variation in species composition. Organic farming had a significantly reduced impact on hedge bottom vegetation compared to conventional farming. Higher extinction due to pesticide drift and immigration rates may be responsible for the significantly higher species diversity and different species composition in hedges on organic farms. The differences in species diversity and plant types are briefly discussed. (C) 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Author(s): Aude, E; Tybirk, K; Pedersen, MB

Journal: Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment

Year: 2003

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