Agroscope FAL Reckenholz, Swiss Federal Research Station for Agroecology and Agriculture, Zurich

Does the soil bebefit wildflower strips?

Several plant and animal species are promoted by wildflower strips. So far, potential benefits of this ecological compensation element to the soil have not yet been examined. Therefore, in the cantons Aargau and Basel-Land two soil aspects have been studied: five or six years old wildflower strips were compared to cereal fields and permanent meadows in regard to the quality of the soil structure and the abundance of the entomopathogenic soil fungus Metarhizium anisopliae. In the permanent meadows both in the topsoil and the under layer the quality of the soil structure was better than in the cereal fields. The values of the wildflower strips were in between. M. anisopliae was detected in all surfaces. The highest frequencies and densities were found in the permanent meadows. In the wildflower strips the fungus density tended to be higher than in the cereal fields. Thus, the soil can benefit from wildflower strips, but it takes several years until improvement.

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