Students contribute to rare arable wildflower field study

RAU lecturers and students are studying the reintroduction of Spreading Hedge-parsley (Torilis arvensis), a rare plant that is associated with cultivated land. It currently ranks as Endangered on the GB Red List, highlighting the need for further knowledge and conservation.

Senior Lecturer in Ecology, Dr Kelly Hemmings, commented "it is a fantastic opportunity for students to make a difference in real conservation research supported by prestigious organisations such as Plantlife and The Royal Botanic Garden Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank". The reintroduction is part of the Back from the Brink Colour in the Margins project, a partnership between Plantlife and the RSPB.

spreading hedge parsley Torilis arvensis 10 c Cath Shellswell

Copyright Cath Shellswell

Our Spreading Hedge-parsley study focuses on the impact of a conventional farming system on the germination, flowering and seed-production of the species under four winter crops (oil seed, beans, barley, and wheat) with a focus on field edge versus interior plots. Students on a number of our courses have been developing their arable wildflower identification skills, as well as conducting practical fieldwork such as seed-sowing, and putting research design theory into practice. There will be many future opportunities for student dissertations and research projects. The courses involved are FdSc British Wildlife Conservation, FdSc Environmental Conservation and Heritage Management, BSc Wildlife and Countryside Management (top-up), and BSc Countryside Management  (top-up).