John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Characterization of field margins in intensified agro‐ecosystems – why narrow margins should matter in terrestrial pesticide risk assessment and management

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Field margins are important semi‐natural habitats in agro‐ecosystems but they can be negatively affected by pesticide inputs via direct overspray and spray drift. In Germany, risk mitigation measures (like buffer zones) to reduce pesticide inputs in terrestrial non‐crop habitats do not have to be put in place by farmers next to narrow field margins (< 3 m width). Since data on structure, size, and width of field margins are scarce, we identified field margins in two German agricultural landscapes (Rhineland‐Palatinate RLP; Brandenburg BB; 4000 ha each) using digital orthophotos and geographical information systems. In RLP, most of the field margins were less than 3 m wide (85% of margin length and 65% of the margin area) while in BB narrow field margins account for 50% of the margin length and 17% of the margin area. Hedgerows were only occasionally recorded. Hence, narrow grassy field margins can represent a large part of the available semi‐natural habitats adjoining to agricultural sites and potentially act as corridors between further habitat patches. For this reason, these margins should be protected from pesticide inputs, at least in landscapes under intensive agricultural use. Field margins are also the main so called non‐target habitat protected by the terrestrial risk assessment for plants and arthropods. With many (narrow) margins not considered relevant for risk management, the current practice for protecting the biodiversity from negative effects of pesticides seems questionable. More data on field margin constitution in Germany and other European countries is necessary to critically assess the current practice of pesticide risk assessment and management on a larger scale. Integr Environ Assess Manag © 2014 SETAC

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