Field Margin Strips [Netherlands]


technologies_5187 - Netherlands

Completeness: 90%

1. General information

1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Technology

Key resource person(s)


Van Rijn Paul

University of Amsterdam, Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)


land user:

Klompe Mellany

Klompe Grondbeheer


Name of project which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
European Interreg project FABulous Farmers
Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) - United Kingdom

1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:


1.4 Declaration on sustainability of the described Technology

Is the Technology described here problematic with regard to land degradation, so that it cannot be declared a sustainable land management technology?


2. Description of the SLM Technology

2.1 Short description of the Technology

Definition of the Technology:

Create strips with flowering plants in the margins of arable fields.

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


In the Hoeksche Waard area (Netherlands), field margin strips between 2 and 20 meters wide have been sown in the margins of arable or vegetable crop fields with a mixture of native flowering plant species, with plant species targeted to encourage certain target insect abundances. A mixture of annual flowers are sown in spring (April or May), or perennial plant mixtures (flowers and grasses) sown also in spring, or prefernetially in late summer (September). Annual flower strips produce flowers mostly in summer, whereas perennial strips produce mostly flowers in the following spring and following years.

The purpose of flower strips is to support the natural pest control and pollination by native insect species for reduced disease and increased production. Many flying natural enemies of pests require pollen and/or nectar in the adult stage for survival and reproduction, needing food on a regular basis, so must be in short range from the crop fields, i.e. in the margin of or within the field. Pollinators also need food when the crop is not flowering in order to build up a local population.

For the implementation of field margin strips to be successful, knowledge of the plant species mixtures was requried to know what would grow well in this semi-humid, deep heavy soil, agricultural environment, as well as growing well together with the right characteristics to support the target insect groups. For example, most natural enemies have small mouth parts and can only feed on nectar from shallow flowers, thus require a specific seed mix (<2 cm deep, see Van Rijn & Wäckers, Journal of Applied Ecology 2016). Here, the species were selected for their ability to support natural enemies of aphids (such as hoverflies) or wild bees, especially bumblebees. The first group includes flowers with accessible nectar (< 2 cm deep) such as Apiaceae, buckwheat, cornflower, and Asteraceae with shallow florets. The second group includes red clover, lotus and other Fabaceae, as well as Asteraceae with deeper florets (such as sunflowers). Perennial mixtures are generally supplemented with annual flowers (cornflowers and poppies) that already produce flowers the first year, as well as (slow growing) grass species (Festuca) to make the strips more robust when incidentally used as tractor paths.

Additionally for implementation, knowledge on how to effectivly use the seed sowing machines, with special care required for preparing the seed bed in advance, to prevent segregation of bigger and smaller seed in the machine, and for sowing the seeds not to deep and the field margin strips should be maintained for a number of years to allow for a local build up of beneficial insect populations. Another considertation is the farming practise and the surrounding landscape as it should provide other resources needed by the insect population, such as hibernation habitat and bee nesting sites or additional (prey and flower providing) habitats for other generations of natural enemies.

The benefits are multiple. The reduced need to use insecticides, especially against aphids, increases the capacity for pollination and reduces the need to manage honeybees, although regular scouting of pest and natural enimies in the adjacent crop field is required to ensure benefits. The strip acts as a buffer to reduce the drift of fertilisers and pesticides into adjacent ditches and water courses. And, there is a social benefit with an increased appreciaiton of the arable landscape by citizens enjoying the mosaic of flowers and crops in the landscape.

The technology overall has been a great success, yet does have a small number of draw backs to be aware of and manage effectivly. Weeds usually occur in the year of sowing and there can be some dislike of the rough nature of the vegetation compared to crop fields. To help manage these challenges field margin strips are sometimes mown while still flowering, ideally mowing is done only once a year and at the end of the growing season (September).

The compilation of this SLM is a part of the European Interreg project FABulous Farmers which aims to reduce the reliance on external inputs by encouraging the use of methods and interventions that increase the farm’s Functional AgroBiodiversity (FAB). Visit and for more information.

2.3 Photos of the Technology

2.4 Videos of the Technology

Comments, short description:

Field margins for Functional Agro Biodiversity in the Hoeksche Waard, The Netherlands

Flowers in fieldmargins of areable farms attrack pestcontrolling insects. Flowers feed the insects by nectar and pollen. The larvae of the insects eat aphids in the crops. The flowers keep the crops free of aphids. A clever way of making use of the power of nature.




Hoeksche Waard

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Technology has been applied and which are covered by this assessment



Region/ State/ Province:

Hoeksche Waard (Zuid-Holland)

Specify the spread of the Technology:
  • evenly spread over an area
If the Technology is evenly spread over an area, specify area covered (in km2):


If precise area is not known, indicate approximate area covered:
  • 100-1,000 km2
Is/are the technology site(s) located in a permanently protected area?



The arable land in the Hoeksche Waard is ca 150 km2. A quarter of the farmers have field margin strips on their farms, with a total of ca 500 km in length.
Latitude: 51.8050
Longitude: 4.4365

2.6 Date of implementation

Indicate year of implementation:


2.7 Introduction of the Technology

Specify how the Technology was introduced:
  • during experiments/ research
  • through projects/ external interventions

3. Classification of the SLM Technology

3.1 Main purpose(s) of the Technology

  • improve production
  • conserve ecosystem
  • protect a watershed/ downstream areas – in combination with other Technologies
  • preserve/ improve biodiversity
  • create beneficial economic impact
  • support natural pest control and improve natural pollination by native insect species

3.2 Current land use type(s) where the Technology is applied

Land use mixed within the same land unit:




  • Annual cropping
Annual cropping - Specify crops:
  • cereals - wheat (spring)
Number of growing seasons per year:
  • 1
Is intercropping practiced?


If yes, specify which crops are intercropped:

Cereal crops and flowering strips

Is crop rotation practiced?


3.3 Has land use changed due to the implementation of the Technology?

Has land use changed due to the implementation of the Technology?
  • No (Continue with question 3.4)

3.4 Water supply

Water supply for the land on which the Technology is applied:
  • rainfed

3.5 SLM group to which the Technology belongs

  • integrated pest and disease management (incl. organic agriculture)
  • herbaceous field margin strips

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

vegetative measures

vegetative measures

  • V2: Grasses and perennial herbaceous plants
management measures

management measures

  • M7: Others

Applying field margin strips for pest control and improved biodiversity

3.7 Main types of land degradation addressed by the Technology

biological degradation

biological degradation

  • Bh: loss of habitats
  • Bp: increase of pests/ diseases, loss of predators

3.8 Prevention, reduction, or restoration of land degradation

Specify the goal of the Technology with regard to land degradation:
  • reduce land degradation

4. Technical specifications, implementation activities, inputs, and costs

4.1 Technical drawing of the Technology

Technical specifications (related to technical drawing):

Overview of flower margins in the Hoeksche Waard (in blue).
Field margin strips are typically 3-4 meters wide but can range between 2 and 20 meters in width. They are typically present at all margins surrounding a crop field, especially where the field is delimited by a ditch. Here the land gradient is flat, but margin strips can be applied on any gradient, and would be particually effective at the bowwom of a slope for run off buffer strip benefits.


Paul van Rijn/Mellany Klompe



4.2 General information regarding the calculation of inputs and costs

Specify how costs and inputs were calculated:
  • per Technology unit
Specify unit:

1 ha

other/ national currency (specify):


If relevant, indicate exchange rate from USD to local currency (e.g. 1 USD = 79.9 Brazilian Real): 1 USD =:


Indicate average wage cost of hired labour per day:

100 euro

4.3 Establishment activities

Activity Timing (season)
1. Creating seed bed using shallow plough to invert weeds and provide bare soil surface o sow seed 1 month before sowing
2. Fertiliser application (as required) Just before or with sowing
3. Sowing seed. Annual flowers are typically sown in rows (30 cm apart), allowing for mechanical weed control (once or twice) in between the rows. Perennial strips are broadcast sown (at a density of 18 kg/ha) and not weeded. April/May or September
4. Weeding using machinery (of annual strips) 1 month after sowing
5. Mowing using machenery 1 month after sowing
6. Ploughing (when strips are removed or resown) after mowing

4.4 Costs and inputs needed for establishment

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour Farm worker person-days 2.5 100.0 250.0 100.0
Equipment Tractor machine-days 2.5 50.0 125.0 100.0
Equipment Sowing machine machine-days 0.75 50.0 37.5 100.0
Equipment Plough machine-days 1.5 50.0 75.0 100.0
Equipment Mower machine-days 0.75 50.0 37.5 100.0
Plant material Seed mix kg 18.0 40.0 720.0
Fertilizers and biocides Fertilizer kg 100.0 2.0 200.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology 1445.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology in USD 1623.6

4.5 Maintenance/ recurrent activities

Activity Timing/ frequency
1. Mowing Once per year

4.6 Costs and inputs needed for maintenance/ recurrent activities (per year)

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour Farm worker person-days 0.75 100.0 75.0 100.0
Equipment Tractor machine-days 0.75 50.0 37.5 100.0
Equipment Mower machine-days 0.75 50.0 37.5 100.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology 150.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology in USD 168.54

4.7 Most important factors affecting the costs

Describe the most determinate factors affecting the costs:

Seed mixture choice can vary in price and weed control can be challenging

5. Natural and human environment

5.1 Climate

Annual rainfall
  • < 250 mm
  • 251-500 mm
  • 501-750 mm
  • 751-1,000 mm
  • 1,001-1,500 mm
  • 1,501-2,000 mm
  • 2,001-3,000 mm
  • 3,001-4,000 mm
  • > 4,000 mm
Specify average annual rainfall (if known), in mm:


Indicate the name of the reference meteorological station considered:


Agro-climatic zone
  • sub-humid

5.2 Topography

Slopes on average:
  • flat (0-2%)
  • gentle (3-5%)
  • moderate (6-10%)
  • rolling (11-15%)
  • hilly (16-30%)
  • steep (31-60%)
  • very steep (>60%)
  • plateau/plains
  • ridges
  • mountain slopes
  • hill slopes
  • footslopes
  • valley floors
Altitudinal zone:
  • 0-100 m a.s.l.
  • 101-500 m a.s.l.
  • 501-1,000 m a.s.l.
  • 1,001-1,500 m a.s.l.
  • 1,501-2,000 m a.s.l.
  • 2,001-2,500 m a.s.l.
  • 2,501-3,000 m a.s.l.
  • 3,001-4,000 m a.s.l.
  • > 4,000 m a.s.l.
Indicate if the Technology is specifically applied in:
  • not relevant

5.3 Soils

Soil depth on average:
  • very shallow (0-20 cm)
  • shallow (21-50 cm)
  • moderately deep (51-80 cm)
  • deep (81-120 cm)
  • very deep (> 120 cm)
Soil texture (topsoil):
  • fine/ heavy (clay)
Soil texture (> 20 cm below surface):
  • fine/ heavy (clay)
Topsoil organic matter:
  • medium (1-3%)

5.4 Water availability and quality

Ground water table:

< 5 m

Availability of surface water:


Water quality (untreated):

for agricultural use only (irrigation)

Water quality refers to:

surface water

Is water salinity a problem?


Is flooding of the area occurring?


5.5 Biodiversity

Species diversity:
  • low
Habitat diversity:
  • low

5.6 Characteristics of land users applying the Technology

Sedentary or nomadic:
  • Sedentary
Market orientation of production system:
  • commercial/ market
Off-farm income:
  • less than 10% of all income
Relative level of wealth:
  • average
Individuals or groups:
  • individual/ household
Level of mechanization:
  • mechanized/ motorized
  • women
  • men
Age of land users:
  • middle-aged

5.7 Average area of land used by land users applying the Technology

  • < 0.5 ha
  • 0.5-1 ha
  • 1-2 ha
  • 2-5 ha
  • 5-15 ha
  • 15-50 ha
  • 50-100 ha
  • 100-500 ha
  • 500-1,000 ha
  • 1,000-10,000 ha
  • > 10,000 ha
Is this considered small-, medium- or large-scale (referring to local context)?
  • small-scale

5.8 Land ownership, land use rights, and water use rights

Land ownership:
  • individual, not titled
Land use rights:
  • leased
  • individual
Water use rights:
  • communal (organized)
Are land use rights based on a traditional legal system?



land use rights are traded

5.9 Access to services and infrastructure

  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
technical assistance:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
employment (e.g. off-farm):
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
roads and transport:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
drinking water and sanitation:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
financial services:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good

6. Impacts and concluding statements

6.1 On-site impacts the Technology has shown

Socio-economic impacts


crop production

Comments/ specify:

Increased crop yeild from improved pollination

crop quality

Comments/ specify:

Increased crop health with reduced pests

Income and costs

expenses on agricultural inputs

Comments/ specify:

Less pesticides required due to better natural pest control

farm income

Comments/ specify:

Cost of implementation offset by larger crop yield and health


Comments/ specify:

Implementation and management of flower strip takes longer than using whole field for single crop

Socio-cultural impacts

food security/ self-sufficiency

Comments/ specify:

Less reliance on pesticide input

recreational opportunities

Comments/ specify:

Social apprication of flowers from public

Ecological impacts

Water cycle/ runoff

water quality

Comments/ specify:

Less pesticide use leading to less being washed into adjacent ditches


soil loss

Comments/ specify:

Buffer strip adjacent to ditch reduces surface run off from field

Biodiversity: vegetation, animals

Vegetation cover

Comments/ specify:

Margin strips have greater land surace coverage than crops

plant diversity

Comments/ specify:

Large diversity in margins

animal diversity

Comments/ specify:

Habitat and forage for a range of biodoversity

beneficial species

Comments/ specify:

Targeted to pollinators and natural pest control species

habitat diversity

Comments/ specify:

Habitat and forage for a range of biodoversity

pest/ disease control

Comments/ specify:

Targeted to improve natural pest control species

6.2 Off-site impacts the Technology has shown

buffering/ filtering capacity

Comments/ specify:

Buffer strip adjacent to ditch reduces surface run off from field of soil, fertilisers and chemicals

6.3 Exposure and sensitivity of the Technology to gradual climate change and climate-related extremes/ disasters (as perceived by land users)

Climate-related extremes (disasters)

Biological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
insect/ worm infestation very well

6.4 Cost-benefit analysis

How do the benefits compare with the establishment costs (from land users’ perspective)?
Short-term returns:

slightly negative

Long-term returns:

neutral/ balanced

How do the benefits compare with the maintenance/ recurrent costs (from land users' perspective)?
Short-term returns:

slightly negative

Long-term returns:

neutral/ balanced


Evaluation based on no subsidies; with subsidies the returns are balanced or slightly positive.

6.5 Adoption of the Technology

  • 11-50%
Of all those who have adopted the Technology, how many did so spontaneously, i.e. without receiving any material incentives/ payments?
  • 0-10%

6.6 Adaptation

Has the Technology been modified recently to adapt to changing conditions?


other (specify):

changing CAP subsidy regulations

Specify adaptation of the Technology (design, material/ species, etc.):

CAP subsidy regulations are financial supports for land management, changes since technology implementation have supported the use of flower margin strips making the implementaiton more favorable. More general information on CAP can be found here:

6.7 Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities of the Technology

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the land user’s view
Use of land difficult for agricultural practices can be used
Community building when implemented across an area, connecting farmers together and connection to the public who appreciate more flowers in thier landscape
Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
New habitat for wildlife, including pollinators and natural pest controls: increased numbers of flowering plants increased numbers of bees, hoverflies and natural enemies
Multifunctionality of flower margins makes them more cost effective; e.g. flower margins close to ditches increases macrofauna diversity in waters
Bufferzone for surface water pollution
Recreational (human health) benefits

6.8 Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks of the Technology and ways of overcoming them

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the land user’s view How can they be overcome?
Additional work & costs sowing and maintaining the flower margins compared to leaving the areas unused Community effort of the Hoeksche Waard reduces individual efforts
Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
Without subsidy the implementation costs can be prohibitive Ensure subsidies available for continued sustainable land use.

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

  • field visits, field surveys

farmer-centric meetings in the Hoeksche Waard

  • interviews with land users

farmer-centric meetings in the Hoeksche Waard


Compiled during 2019-20 to summarise implementation between 2005 - 2019.

7.3 Links to relevant online information

Title/ description:

Research on field margins by the University of Amsterdam


Links and modules

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