A Study Of Vegetation Composition And Soil Chemistry On Five Year Non-rotational Set-aside Under Four Management Regimes, Essex, UK.

Jonathan P. Wade BSc. (Hons)

A report presented in the Geography Subject Area, Coventry University, towards the Degree of Bachelor of Science with Honours in Geography,

April 1997.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Professor Ian Foster for his advice and guidance, and Elizabeth Turner for her technical assistance in the laboratory. I would also like to thank Mr. Richardson of Birkett Hall, Mr. Theobold of White House Farm, Mr. Calderwood of Reeds Farm and Mr. Speakman of Woodham Lodge Farm, who allowed me to carry out my survey. Also thank you to all those who gave me encouragement, and my parents who chauffeured me to the farms beyond cycling distance.

ABSTRACT

Non-rotational set-aside on four farms in Essex was surveyed in summer 1996. Vegetation data was collected using a 0.25 m2 quadrat, and soil was analysed for pH, C, Cl, PO4, NH4, NO3, NO2, SO4, Si, Ca, Mg, Na, K and particle size. Set-aside had significantly altered the nutrient status of the soil. There were both significant increases and decreases in the various cations and anions examined. Soils generally became more acidic. Nitrates were significantly reduced and ammonium increased. Vegetation development was partially determined by the cover management adopted. It was not possible to relate the developed vegetation with the nutrient status of the soil.

Key Words: Non-rotational set-aside, Natural regeneration, Sown sward, Vegetation development, Species richness, Problem weeds, Soil chemistry.

1. INTRODUCTION  

  • 1.1. BACKGROUND: THE POST WAR PRODUCTIVIST ERA
  • 1.2. THE POST PRODUCTIVIST ERA
  • 1.3. SET-ASIDE POLICY
  • 1.4. AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF REPORT

2. VEGETATION AND SOILS OF AGRICULTURAL LAND

3. BACKGROUND TO STUDY AREA

  • 3.1. SOIL SERIES, CLIMATE AND GEOLOGY
  • 3.2. MORE DETAILED SITE DESCRIPTION

4. METHODOLOGY

  • 4.1. VEGETATION ASSESSMENT
  • 4.1.1. DATA COLLECTION
  • 4.1.2. VEGETATION ANALYSIS
  • 4.2. SOIL SAMPLING
  • 4.2.1. SOIL COLLECTION
  • 4.2.2. SOIL ANALYSIS
  • 4.3. DATA ANALYSIS
  • 4.4. HYPOTHESES

5. RESULTS

  • 5.1. VEGETATION SECTION
    • 5.1.1. SPECIES RICHNESS, DIVERSITY AND  DOMINANCE INDEX
    • 5.1.2. ANNUALS, BIENNIAL AND PERENNIALS
    • 5.1.3. COVER AND ABUNDANCE
    • 5.1.4. FREQUENCY
    • 5.1.5. SUMMARY
  • 5.2 SOIL SECTION
    • 5.2.1. pH, PARTICLE SIZE AND CARBON
    • 5.2.2. WATER EXTRACTS
    • 5.2.3. TOTAL DIGESTS
    • 5.2.4. SIGNIFICANCE OF NUTRIENT CHANGE UNDER SET-ASIDE
    • 5.2.5. SUMMARY

6. TEST OF SPECIFIC HYPOTHESES

  • 6.1. HYPOTHESIS 1
  • 6.2. HYPOTHESIS 2
  • 6.3. HYPOTHESIS 3
  • 6.4. HYPOTHESIS 4
  • 6.5. HYPOTHESIS 5
  • 6.6. HYPOTHESIS 6
  • 6.7. HYPOTHESIS 7
  • 6.8. HYPOTHESIS 8
  • 6.9. SUMMARY

7. DISCUSSION

8. CONCLUSION

9. BIBLIOGRAPHY

10. APPENDICES – (To be added)

LIST OF FIGURES

  • FIGURE 5.1. PROPORTION OF PERENNIALS, BIENNIALS AND  ANNUALS
  • FIGURE 5.2. MEAN % COVER FOR PROBLEM GRASSES
  • FIGURE 5.3. MEAN % COVER FOR PROBLEM WEEDS
  • FIGURE 5.4. MEAN ABUNDANCE FOR PROBLEM WEEDS
  • FIGURE 5.5. COMPARISON OF THE BORDERS AND CORES OF  FIELDS
  • FIGURE 6.1. SCATTERPLOT OF ABUNDANCE AGAINST TOTAL N
  • FIGURE 6.2. COMPARISON OF FIELD MARGINS AND FIELD CORES
  • FIGURE 6.3. SCATTER PLOT OF POTASSIUM AGAINST SPECIES RICHNESS
  • FIGURE 6.4. MEAN ABUNDANCE OF PROBLEM WEEDS PER 0.25 m2 FOR EACH FIELD

LIST OF PLATES

  • PLATE 1.         BIRKETT HALL
  • PLATE 2.         WHITE HOUSE FARM
  • PLATE 3.         REEDS FARM
  • PLATE 4.         WOODHAM LODGE FARM

LIST OF TABLES

  • TABLE 5.1. SPECIES RICHNESS, DIVERSITY AND  DOMINANCE INDEX
  • TABLE 5.2. SPECIES REACHING DOMINANCE IN AT LEAST  ONE QUADRAT
  • TABLE 5.3. COVER AND FREQUENCY OF WHITE CLOVER
  • TABLE 5.4. FREQUENCY DATA FOR VEGETATION
  • TABLE 5.5. SOIL ANALYSIS DATA
  • TABLE 5.6. SOIL NUTRIENT CHANGES ON SET-ASIDE
  • TABLE 5.7. LEVEL OF SIGNIFICANCE FOR SOIL NUTRIENT CHANGES
  • .TABLE 6.1. ABUNDANCE OF PROBLEM WEEDS AND  NUTRIENT CONCENTRATION OF THE SOIL
  • TABLE 6.2. COMPARISON OF FIELD MARGINS AND FIELD CORES
  • TABLE 6.3. SPECIES RICHNESS AND SPECIES DIVERSITY FOR SOWN AND UNSOWN FIELDS
  • TABLE 6.4. COMPARISON OF ABUNDANCE OF WEEDS ON SOWN AND UNSOWN FIELDS
  • TABLE 6.5. SPECIES RICHNESS, SPECIES DIVERSITY AND NUTRIENT SUPPLY
  • TABLE 6.6. MEAN % COVER AND FREQUENCY OF CLOVER  WITHNUTRIENT CONTENT
  • TABLE 6.7. COMPARISON OF HEAVILY AND LIGHTLY GRAZED FIELDS
  • TABLE 6.8. CUTTING REGIME AND ABUNDANCE OF PROBLEM WEEDS AT FARM LEVEL

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