A comparison between the impacts of ploughing and minimum tillage on arable plant assemblages at Ranscombe Farm Reserve, Kent, UK.
Land at Ranscombe Farm Reserve showed a build-up of biennial and perennial plants following a number years of conservation management for rare arable plants. The impacts of two different forms of cultivation were compared in order to understand how cultivation might be used to control this build-up, while maintaining the habitat for the rare arable plants for which the site is important. It was found that, in comparison with minimum tillage, ploughing produced lower overall plant cover but had no significant impact on the numbers of annual plant species, or on the number or population size of rare annual plant species. Plants considered to be problem species, such as creeping thistle Cirsium arvense and perennial sowthistle Sonchus arvensis, were not affected by the type of cultivation, but the abundance of these species did not appear to have a negative impact on those annual arable plants of conservation concern.