The use of nutrient resources from arable fields by plants in field boundaries.
The effect of a nutrient-rich arable field on the biomass production of the bordering field boundary vegetation was examined. Biomass transects were made in experimental boundary plots and normal wheat field boundaries in the Netherlands. Experimental boundary plots shielded from the arable field by a physical barrier and field boundaries next to an unfertilized crop edge were used as respective controls. Three clonal (Cirsium arvense, Elymus repens and Ranunculus repens) and three non-clonal species (Rumex obtusifolius, Dactylis glomerata and R. acetosa) were transplanted to the edge of the experimental boundary vegetation plots to determine whether growth strategy affected nutrient capture efficiency. The response in biomass production was analysed after three months of growth. The increase in yield when plants were able to profit from arable field resources was similar and, in some cases greater, in non-clonal species than in clonal species. Biomass production increased significantly only in the first 10-20 cm of boundary vegetation. The boundary vegetation furthest from the field was shielded from direct effects. The effects of the capture of arable field nutrients by the boundary vegetation have consequences for field boundary management. In field boundary vegetation that is annually cut and removed effects will be limited, but boundary management that does not include removal of the cuttings may result in an accumulation of arable field nutrients in the boundary vegetation and, subsequently, in the loss of species diversity of this habitat.