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Current state and drivers of arable plant diversity in conventionally managed farmland in Northwest Germany

Agricultural intensification has led to dramatic diversity losses and impoverishment of the arable vegetation in much of Europe. We analyzed the status of farmland phytodiversity and its determinants in 2016 in northwest Germany by surveying 200 conventionally managed field s cultivated with seven crops. The study was combined with an analysis of edaphic (soil yield potential),agronomic (crop cover, fertilizer and herbicide use) and landscape factors (adjacent habitats). In total,we recorded 150 non-crop plant species, many of them nitrophilous generalist species, while speciesof conservation value were almost completely absent. According to a post-hoc pairwise comparison of the mixed model results, the cultivation of rapeseed positively influenced non-crop plant species richness as compared to winter cereals (wheat, barley, rye and triticale; data pooled), maize or potato.The presence of grassy strips and ditch margins adjacent to fields increased plant richness at field edges presumably through spillover effects. In the field interiors, median values of non-crop plantrichness and cover were only 2 species and 0.5% cover across all crops, and at the field edges 11 species and 4% cover. Agricultural intensification has wiped out non-crop plant life nearly completely from conventionally managed farmland, except for a narrow, floristically impoverished field edge strip.



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