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Flowering strips meet cultivated plants

Biodiversity elements or cultivated plants?  Instead of an either/or decision, we are implementing togetherness. In a trial at the International DLG Crop Production Centre (IPZ), we are bringing flower strips and crops together and biodiversity into the field instead of just to the field boundaries.

Since 2012, the strip tillage method has been studied at the IPZ and successfully established in various crops. In a row spacing of 50 cm, only the strips are loosened in which the crop is later drilled. Besides rape and maize, this method has also been used in winter wheat, where a double row is sown in this strip. Expected yield losses due to the "unused" area are compensated for by improved individual plant development and reduction of evaporation through mulch application in the interspace.

Now this method is to be further developed in a three-year project funded by the Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU) together with the Anhalt University of Applied Sciences (AG Prof. Anita Kirmer) and the Schmotzer Hacktechnik company by actively planting the interspaces with various arable wild herb mixtures.

The goals of the project are:

  • Reduction of chemical-synthetic plant protection in conventional arable farming by combining high-precision mechanical and chemical plant protection methods.
  • Reduction of fungicide applications by redesigning the crop architecture and using precise application techniques when crop protection needs nevertheless arise.
  • Integration in terms of biodiversity and landscape value of valuable plant stands in conventionally managed cropland as live mulch to suppress weeds, increase biodiversity and encourage beneficial insects.
  • Maintaining and increasing soil health and thus plant fitness through a permanent and diverse plant cover and the absence of wetting by chemical-synthetic pesticides.
  • Testing the economic applicability of the alternative methods compared to the usual land management on medium-sized farms.

In addition to annual mixtures (up to 10 species depending on the crop), variously diverse perennial mixtures (with 15 or 25 species) are used in a crop rotation with field beans - winter wheat - silage maize - winter durum. This week, the time had come and during the first cultivation with the roller hoe, the various mixtures were applied at the same time. With the camera-assisted hoe, the double rows in the grain could also be reliably identified and so the wild herb mixtures could be applied directly to the space in between, as the picture also shows. And also the weather helped with a small shower directly after sowing to give all plants a good start into spring.

Are you curious or do you have any questions or suggestions about our trial?

Contact: Siv Biada, International DLG Plant Production Centre,, 03471-6849411 or visit us at our site in Bernburg.

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