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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Winter grazing of brent geese Branta bernicula on purposely cultivated grass at Copt Hall Farm, Essex, England

Published source details

Vickery J.A., Sutherland W.J. & Lane S.J. (1994) The management of grass pastures for brent geese. Journal of Applied Ecology, 31, 283-290


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Employ grazing in artificial grasslands/pastures Bird Conservation

A series of replicated controlled trials on grassland sites at two reserves in Essex, England, between 1990 and 1992 (Vickery et al. 1994) found that brent geese Branta bernicla did not graze at higher densities on plots that were areas grazed, compared to cut and grazed areas, or areas that were just cut. Goose grazing intensity was not affected by sheep grazing compared to cattle grazing. Six replicates of each treatment were used.

 

Mow or cut semi-natural grasslands/pastures Bird Conservation

A series of replicated trials on grassland sites at two reserves in Essex, England, between 1990 and 1992 (Vickery et al. 1994) found that brent geese Branta bernicla grazing densities on 24 grassland plots were not affected by the frequency of grass cutting (between two and five times a year). There were no differences between areas that were only cut, cut and grazed or only grazed. This study is discussed further in ‘Fertilise grasslands’ and ‘Employ grazing in natural and semi-natural habitats’.

 

Fertilize artificial grasslands Bird Conservation

A series of replicated controlled trials on grassland sites at two reserves in Essex, England, between 1990 and 1992 (Vickery et al. 1994) found that brent geese Branta bernicla grazed at significantly higher densities on fertilised and cut areas, compared to unfertilised areas, but only at high levels of fertiliser application (50 kg N/ha used: 28-30 droppings/m2 for fertilised areas vs. 23-28 droppings/m2 for controls; 18 kg N/ha  used: 30-35 droppings/m2 for fertilised areas vs. 25-35 droppings/m2 for control areas). There were no differences between trials using organic and inorganic fertiliser.

 

Provide 'sacrificial' grasslands to reduce the impact of wild geese on crops Farmland Conservation

A series of replicated controlled trials on grassland sites at two reserves in Essex, England, between 1990 and 1992 (Vickery et al. 1994) found that brent geese Branta bernicla grazed at significantly higher densities on fertilized and cut areas, compared to unfertilized areas, but only at high levels of fertilizer application (50 kg N/ha used: 28-30 droppings/m2 for fertilized areas vs 23-28 droppings/m2 for controls, 18 kg N/ha used: 30-35 droppings/m2 for fertilized areas vs 25-35 droppings/m2 for control areas). There were no differences between trials using organic and inorganic fertilizer.

Use grazing instead of cutting for pasture or grassland management Natural Pest Control

A randomised, replicated, controlled experiment in 1990-1992 on a pasture in Essex, UK (Vickery et al. 1994) found similar grazing intensities of brent geese Branta bernicla (pests) on sheep-grazed plots (averaging 31.6-39.5 total goose droppings/m²/winter), cut and grazed plots (28.2-36.4 droppings), and cut-only plots (28.5-36.8 droppings). The amount of vegetation was similar between grazed (223-236 g dry weight/m²), cut and grazed (195-255 g/m²) and cut-only plots (188-232 g/m²). In another randomised, replicated, controlled experiment, grazing intensities of brent geese were similar in sheep-grazed (59.6 total droppings/m²) and cattle-grazed (60.2 droppings/m²) plots. In the first experiment, grazed plots contained sheep in April-May or June and July-September and grazing intensities varied from 13.5-92.2 livestock unit days. Cut and grazed plots were cut on 26 June then grazed for one or two one-month periods. Cut plots were cut in late June and late August. Each treatment was replicated six times in 100 x 75 m plots. In the second experiment six plots (of 50 x 50 m) were grazed by 14 cattle and six plots were grazed by 6-11 sheep in June-August. Goose droppings were monitored in sample areas (with 1.5 m-radiuses) at 5 and 10 random points/plot (first and second experiments, respectively).