Red List habitat classification > RLH - Sparsely vegetated habitats > RLI1.3 Arable land with unmixed crops grown by low-intensity agricultural methods

Arable land with unmixed crops grown by low-intensity agricultural methods

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLI1.3
Threat status
Europe Endangered
EU Endangered
Relation to
Source European Red List habitat factsheet
European Red List of habitats reports
European Red List of habitats (Excel table)

Summary

This habitat includes arable fields managed using low-intensity agricultural techniques with occurrence of rare native or archaeophyte weed species, survivors of a farming style that has existed in Europe since the Neolithic. The most common crops of such fields have been cereals including Avena sativa, Hordeum vulgare, Triticum aestivum, T. turgidum and Secale cereale, managed without herbicides, without application of non-organic fertilizers and often without irrigation systems. They were originally sown manually, which resulted in more patchy distribution of crop plants than when mechanical sowing is used, thus leaving space for the development of weeds and the crop seeds were often contaminated with weed seed.

Traditionally managed rain-fed fields have been preserved especially in the mountainous areas of the Mediterranean and although they are no longer profitable for corn production, they are still used locally for planting winter cereals as a source of fodder for livestock. Wheat is the most common crop but rotation with other cereals is common. Such fields are small in size, often located on terraces and are ploughed and sown in autumn and, when the crop biomass increases, they are either grazed or mown for hay. The fields are rich in low-competitive winter-annual weed species which reach their peak of biomass development in spring. Their species composition differs considerably from the irrigated Mediterranean fields, which are rich in weeds that germinate only in warmer periods in spring and reach their phenological optimum in summer or autumn. The latter also contain many more neophytes.

Outside the Mediterranean, the traditionally managed low-intensity fields are much rarer . They occur locally especially on soils with limited water-storage capacity such as on limestone slopes or on sandy plains but most arable fields in such unproductive environments have been abandoned during the last decades. Also here, cereals are the most common crop in such low-intensity farming systems as survive. Wherever low site fertility does not allow the development of dense stands of the crop and the use of herbicides is limited, species-rich weed communities including several archaeophytes of the Mediterranean and Near East origin may develop. Some of these weed species were relatively common until the first half of the 20th century, but they declined dramatically due to agricultural intensification including the use of herbicides, chemical fertilizers, improved seed-cleaning methods, sowing highly productive and competitive varieties of cereals, and removal of refugial habitats in the landscape due to merging of small fields into large ones. Nowadays in many cases, species-rich weed communities only occur in narrow stripes along field margins that are not treated with herbicides or in restoration initiatives.

Indicators of good quality:

·      Occurrence of rare or declining, native or archaeophytic weed species

·      Low incidence of neophytic weeds

·      No use of mineral fertilizers

·      No or limited use of herbicides

·      No irrigation in dryland areas

Characteristic species
For full habitat description, please download the habitat factsheet.

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

Despite variable data quality, a lack of data from several countries and different interpretations of the habitat definition, the decreases in quantity and quality have been calculated using the territorial data from a sufficient number of countries to build an overall European average. Due to a large decrease in area over the last 50 years, the habitat qualifies for category Endangered under criterion A1. All countries except Italy (-20% to -40%) and Switzerland (-37.5%) reported a decrease in area between -50% and -99%. If the Italian and Swiss data were neglected, the overall assessment would result in category Critically Endangered. It would also be worth improving the data on long historical trends in quantity because this habitat type would possibly qualify for category Critically Endangered under criterion A3.
EU
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Endangered A1
Europe
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Endangered A1

Confidence in the assessment

medium
Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Agriculture
    • Modification of cultivation practices
    • Agricultural intensification
    • Annual and perennial non-timber crops
    • Abandonment of crop production
    • Use of biocides, hormones and chemicals
    • Fertilisation

Habitat restoration potential

There is much uncertainty about population dynamics and recovery potential of rare native and archaeophytic weed communities. It is assumed that the seed banks have been destroyed to a large extent. If a characteristic seed bank is still available, the regeneration may happen comparatively quick, but requires waiving of herbicide, biocide and excessive use of chemical fertilizers. If the characteristic seed bank has already been destroyed, the recovery will take a longer time unless restoration involves the addition of seed from elsewhere. The capacity to recover also depends on the degree of fragmentation.

Trends in extent

Average current trend in quantity

Decreasing Decreasing
EU28 EU28+

Trends in quality

Average current trend in quality

Decreasing Decreasing
EU28 EU28+

Conservation and management needs

A large-scale improvement regarding quantity and quality of this habitat type may require a revision of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and agri-environment funding schemes. Additionally, exemplary sites of this habitat type can be preserved as open-air museums in protected areas.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to agriculture and open habitats
    • Other agriculture-related measures
  • Measures related to spatial planning
    • Establish protected areas/sites
    • Legal protection of habitats and species
    • Manage landscape features

Distribution

For each habitat a distribution map was produced from a wide variety of sources indicating known and potential occurrences of the habitat in 10x10 km grids within Europe. Occurrences in grid cells were given in two classes: actual distribution from relatively reliable sources (surveys, expert knowledge), and potential distribution based on models or less reliable indicators. Please download the fact sheet to see the map.

Geographic occurrence and trends

EU28 Present or presence uncertain Current area of habitat (Km2) Recent trend in quantity (last 50 years) Recent trend in quality (last 50 years)
Austria Present 135 Decreasing Decreasing
Belgium Present Unknown Decreasing Decreasing
Bulgaria Present Unknown Decreasing Decreasing
Croatia Present 10 Decreasing Decreasing
Cyprus Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Czech Republic Present 3000 Decreasing Decreasing
Denmark Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Estonia Present 655 Unknown Unknown
Finland mainland Present Unknown Decreasing
France mainland Present 2250 Decreasing Decreasing
Germany Present Unknown Decreasing Decreasing
Greece (mainland and other islands) Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Hungary Present 35 Decreasing Decreasing
Ireland Present 1 Decreasing Decreasing
Italy mainland Present 20538 Decreasing Decreasing
Sardinia Present 20538 Decreasing Decreasing
Sicily Present 20538 Decreasing Decreasing
Lithuania Present 10 Decreasing Decreasing
Netherlands Present 12.5 Decreasing Decreasing
Portugal mainland Present 754 Unknown Decreasing
Romania Present 8 Unknown Increasing
Slovakia Present 200 Unknown Decreasing
Slovenia Present 5 Decreasing Decreasing
Spain mainland Present Unknown Decreasing Decreasing
United Kingdom Present 188 Unknown Decreasing
Latvia Uncertain - -
Luxembourg Uncertain - -
Malta Uncertain - -
Poland Present 15.6 Decreasing Unknown
Sweden Uncertain - -
EU28 + Present or presence uncertain Current area of habitat (Km2) Recent trend in quantity (last 50 years) Recent trend in quality (last 50 years)
Bosnia and Herzegovina Present 5 Decreasing Decreasing
Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Present Unknown Unknown Decreasing
Switzerland Present 500 Decreasing Decreasing
Albania Uncertain - -
Kaliningrad Uncertain - -
Kosovo Uncertain - -
Montenegro Uncertain - -
Serbia Uncertain - -

Extent of Occurrence, Area of Occupancy and habitat area

Extent of Occurrence (EOO) (Km2) Area of Occupancy (AOO) Current estimated Total Area Comment
EU28 3928700 256 27817 no data from Greece, Cyprus, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Sweden
EU28+ 257 28322 no data from Greece, Cyprus, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Sweden, Norway, Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, Kaliningrad, Serbia
AOO = the area occupied by a habitat measured in number of 10x10 km grid cells.
EOO = the area (km2) of the envelope around all occurrences of a habitat (calculated by a minimum convex polygon).

Characteristic species

The full list of characteristic species and genus are available above from the Summary. The species available in the EUNIS database are shown here.
Flowering Plants Adonis aestivalis
Flowering Plants Agrostemma githago
Flowering Plants Ajuga chamaepitys
Flowering Plants Allium nigrum
Flowering Plants Alopecurus myosuroides
Flowering Plants Anagallis arvensis
Flowering Plants Anthemis altissima
Flowering Plants Aphanes arvensis
Flowering Plants Arnoseris minima
Flowering Plants Asperula arvensis
Flowering Plants Bifora radians
Flowering Plants Bupleurum rotundifolium
Flowering Plants Caucalis platycarpos
Flowering Plants Centaurea cyanus
Flowering Plants Chrysanthemum segetum
Flowering Plants Conringia orientalis
Flowering Plants Euphorbia exigua
Flowering Plants Galium tricornutum
Flowering Plants Gladiolus italicus
Flowering Plants Hordeum vulgare
Flowering Plants Hypecoum procumbens
Flowering Plants Legousia speculum-veneris
Flowering Plants Lilium bulbiferum
Flowering Plants Lolium rigidum
Flowering Plants Medicago polymorpha
Flowering Plants Muscari comosum
Flowering Plants Nigella arvensis
Flowering Plants Papaver argemone
Flowering Plants Ranunculus arvensis
Flowering Plants Raphanus raphanistrum
Flowering Plants Reseda phyteuma
Flowering Plants Rhagadiolus stellatus
Flowering Plants Roemeria hybrida
Flowering Plants Scandix pecten-veneris
Flowering Plants Secale cereale
Flowering Plants Silene gallica
Flowering Plants Stachys annua
Flowering Plants Teesdalia nudicaulis
Flowering Plants Thymelaea passerina
Flowering Plants Triticum aestivum
Flowering Plants Turgenia latifolia
Flowering Plants Veronica agrestis
Flowering Plants Vicia sativa
Species scientific name English common name Species group
Adonis aestivalis Flowering Plants
Agrostemma githago Flowering Plants
Ajuga chamaepitys Flowering Plants
Allium nigrum Flowering Plants
Alopecurus myosuroides Flowering Plants
Anagallis arvensis Flowering Plants
Anthemis altissima Flowering Plants
Aphanes arvensis Flowering Plants
Arnoseris minima Flowering Plants
Asperula arvensis Flowering Plants
Bifora radians Flowering Plants
Bupleurum rotundifolium Flowering Plants
Caucalis platycarpos Flowering Plants
Centaurea cyanus Flowering Plants
Chrysanthemum segetum Flowering Plants
Conringia orientalis Flowering Plants
Euphorbia exigua Flowering Plants
Galium tricornutum Flowering Plants
Gladiolus italicus Flowering Plants
Hordeum vulgare Flowering Plants
Hypecoum procumbens Flowering Plants
Legousia speculum-veneris Flowering Plants
Lilium bulbiferum Flowering Plants
Lolium rigidum Flowering Plants
Medicago polymorpha Flowering Plants
Muscari comosum Flowering Plants
Nigella arvensis Flowering Plants
Papaver argemone Flowering Plants
Ranunculus arvensis Flowering Plants
Raphanus raphanistrum Flowering Plants
Reseda phyteuma Flowering Plants
Rhagadiolus stellatus Flowering Plants
Roemeria hybrida Flowering Plants
Scandix pecten-veneris Flowering Plants
Secale cereale Flowering Plants
Silene gallica Flowering Plants
Stachys annua Flowering Plants
Teesdalia nudicaulis Flowering Plants
Thymelaea passerina Flowering Plants
Triticum aestivum Flowering Plants
Turgenia latifolia Flowering Plants
Veronica agrestis Flowering Plants
Vicia sativa Flowering Plants

Vegetation types

Relation to vegetation types (syntaxa)

Not available

Other classifications

This habitat may be equivalent to, or broather than, or narrower than the habitats or ecosystems in the following typologies.
Classification Code Habitat type name Relationship type
EUNIS Habitat Classification 200711 I1.3 Arable land with unmixed crops grown by low-intensity agricultural methods same
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100