Create open patches or strips in permanent grassland

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
    not assessed
  • Certainty
    not assessed
  • Harms
    not assessed

Study locations

Key messages

  • Two studies (both randomized, replicated and controlled) investigated the effects of creating open strips in permanent grassland. One trial from the UK found that more Eurasian skylarks used fields containing open strips, but variations in skylark numbers were too great to draw conclusions from this finding. One trial from Scotland found insect numbers in grassy headlands initially dropped when strips were cleared.


About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A randomized, replicated, controlled trial in winter 1995-1996 in southern England (Wakeham-Dawson & Aebischer 1998) found more Eurasian skylarks Alauda arvensis on seven fields with open strips than in seven control fields without strips, but the variation in numbers was so great that these differences were not significant (2-55 skylarks/km2 on treated fields vs 0 on controls). Open strips were created in a grid pattern, 25 m apart, using a tine-cultivator in November 1995. Experimental fields were still significantly more open in May 1996, but the swards had closed entirely by February 1997. The number of skylarks was recorded on three visits/month from December 1995 to February 1996 on 14 fields.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A randomized, replicated, controlled trial in 1997 and 1998 in Scotland, (Haysom et al. 2000) found that conservation management of permanent pasture field headlands (protection from summer grazing and clearing strips in the sward using herbicides) substantially increased the number of chick-food insects. The study measured the effect of different combinations of grazing and herbicide strip treatments on the numbers of true bugs (Heteroptera), sawfly larvae (Symphyta) and caterpillars (Lepidoptera). Treatments began in 1997, and insects were sampled in June and July in 1997 and 1998. By 1998, headlands protected from summer grazing had 19-32 times more chick-food insects (609 true bugs, 75 sawflies and 18 caterpillars, on average per 10 samples) than grazed headlands (19 true bugs, 2 sawflies and 1 caterpillar). Clearing strips in the sward (to allow birds easier access to insects) initially reduced the numbers of caterpillars and sawflies, but they recovered by 1998, when vegetation in bare areas had regrown.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Dicks, L.V., Ashpole, J.E., Dänhardt, J., James, K., Jönsson, A., Randall, N., Showler, D.A., Smith, R.K., Turpie, S., Williams, D.R. & Sutherland, W.J. (2020) Farmland Conservation. Pages 283-321 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2020. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.


Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

All the journals searched for all synopses

Farmland Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Farmland Conservation
What Works 2021 cover

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

More about What Works in Conservation

Download free PDF or purchase
The Conservation Evidence Journal

The Conservation Evidence Journal

An online, free to publish in, open-access journal publishing results from research and projects that test the effectiveness of conservation actions.

Read the latest volume: Volume 21

Go to the CE Journal

Discover more on our blog

Our blog contains the latest news and updates from the Conservation Evidence team, the Conservation Evidence Journal, and our global partners in evidence-based conservation.

Who uses Conservation Evidence?

Meet some of the evidence champions

Endangered Landscape ProgrammeRed List Champion - Arc Kent Wildlife Trust The Rufford Foundation Save the Frogs - Ghana Mauritian Wildlife Supporting Conservation Leaders
Sustainability Dashboard National Biodiversity Network Frog Life The international journey of Conservation - Oryx Cool Farm Alliance UNEP AWFA Bat Conservation InternationalPeople trust for endangered species Vincet Wildlife Trust