• Botanical rejuvenation of field margins and benefits for invertebrate fauna on a drystock farm in County Longford

      Sheridan, Helen; Finn, John; O'Donovan, Grace; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Royal Irish Academy, 30/07/2009)
      This study investigates methods to rejuvenate the fl ora of previously degraded fi eld margins on a pastoral farm in County Longford. We also assess the effects of individual treatments on the abundance of various orders of invertebrates recorded within the experimental plots. Field margin treatments were 1.5m-wide unfenced control margins, 1.5m-wide fenced margins or 3.5m-wide fenced margins. Nutrient inputs were excluded from all of the experimental plots. The botanical composition of the plots was examined on four occasions between 2002 and 2004 using permanent, nested quadrats. Emergence traps were used to measure invertebrate abundance within treatment plots and the main sward. Results indicated that 1) exclusion of nutrient inputs had a positive effect on plant species richness within the fi eld margins; 2) plant species richness decreased with increased distance from the hedgerow; 3) herb species richness was greatest in the 1.5m closest to the hedgerow; 4) greater abundance of invertebrates occurred within the 3.5m-wide margins; 5) successful control of Pteridium aquilinum was achieved through spot treatment with the selective herbicide ‘Asulox’; and 6) a combination of management techniques such as cutting and grazing is likely to enhance plant species richness and facilitate the structural diversity of vegetation that is necessary for many invertebrate taxa.