The article is published in Agronomy, and it belongs to the Special Issue Successfully Managing Interdependent Agricultural Landscapes — Processes, Structures and Mechanisms Sustaining the Entire System. Ecological intensification of agriculture (e.g., with the use of wildflower strips) is being currently discussed as a mean for gaining high yields, preserving high biodiversity of farmland. The aim of this study was to assess the efficiency of annual wildflower strips (WFSs) established in rye field (RF) in (1) increasing species richness and abundance in terms of beneficial arthropod groups (carabids, ground spiders, plant spiders, butterflies, insect pollinators and plant-dwelling insect predators), (2) decreasing the abundance of insect pests, (3) decreasing damages of the crop, and (4) increasing the yield. The field survey was carried out in 2019, in two WFSs and in the adjacent crop field at the distances of 3, 9, 21 and 45 m. The study was not skewed by pesticide use as it was carried out on an organic farm. Mean “site” species numbers (α-diversity) and the abundance of most groups were found to be significantly higher in WFSs than in RF. A negative relationship was found in most groups between distance from WFSs and species numbers and abundance. The mean total abundance of all observed pest insects was positively related to distance from WFSs and increased by 83% at distances between 3 and 45 m from WFSs. There was a negative exponential relationship between aphid abundance and total predator abundance, which suggests a mechanism reducing aphid abundance resulting from high levels of predator abundance in the nearby WFSs. The study shows that annual WFSs can be an efficient measure for enhancing cropland biodiversity and should be taken into account in agri-environmental schemes in the Common Agricultural Policy after 2020.
Zdzisław Bernacki, Jolanta Kowalska, Anna Kujawa, Maria Oleszczuk, Paweł Sienkiewicz, Dariusz Sobczyk