Die Bodenkultur - Journal for Land Management, Food and Environment

P. Sklenicka and M. Salek:

Effects of forest edges on the yield of silage maize (Zea mays L.)


Edges between cropfields and forests are significant for biological diversity, but little is known as to their effects on crop production. The principal objective of this study was to assess the growth and yield of silage maize in relation to: (1) distance to the forest edge, (2) edge orientation, and (3) changes in forest edge effect during the vegetation period.

The yield of maize was sampled twice a year (June and September) on eight 150 m transects in four edge positions in intensive agricultural land in Central Bohemia, Czech Republic. The average height of the forest edges was 25 ± 2 m. The strongest yield decline occurred along the forest edges located south of the field, reducing plant growth up to 70 % right at the edge, in comparison with midfield. The decline in yields subsided 60 m (2.4 h, i.e. multiple of forest edge height) away from the edge. Other positions have less impact, with the lowest effect being recorded north (20 m, i.e. 0.8 h, with a reduction of less than 20 %). Light exposure was found to be an important factor. Biomass accumulation between June and September varied widely, but was not significantly affected by distance from the edge.

Biomass yield was highest 80–100 m (i.e. 3.2–4 h) from the edge in all transects and at both samplings. The findings of this study may be relevant for the design of cropfields and new woodlots within the mosaic of rural landscape, and may support the compromise cultivation of crop margins in the interest of biological diversity conservation, on the one hand, and of yield loss compensation, on the other.

Key words: Edge effect, Silage maize, Crop margins, Headlands, Edge distance, Illumination.