Study

Set-aside strips sown with grass or wildflower seed mixtures attract higher proportions of bird individuals and species than the crop area, but lower than field boundaries, on a farm in Cambridgeshire, UK

  • Published source details Clarke J.H., Jones N.E., Hill D.A. & Tucker G.M. (1997) The management of set-aside within a farm and its impact on birds. Proceedings - Brighton Crop Protection Conference, Brighton, 1, 1179-1184.

Actions

This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Plant grass buffer strips/margins around arable or pasture fields for birds

Action Link
Bird Conservation

Plant nectar flower mixture/wildflower strips for birds

Action Link
Bird Conservation

Plant grass buffer strips/margins around arable or pasture fields

Action Link
Farmland Conservation

Plant nectar flower mixture/wildflower strips

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Plant grass buffer strips/margins around arable or pasture fields for birds

    A replicated, controlled study in summer and autumn of 1995 and 1996 on 15 sown set-aside strips on a farm in Cambridgeshire, UK (Clarke et al. 1997) found that more bird individuals (average 20%) and species (average 56%) used the strips than the adjacent crop area (average 7% individuals and 33% species) in both years. However, the highest proportions of both individuals and species were recorded in the field boundaries (average 68% ind. and 80% spp.). The highest species richness was found in the most diverse grass mix. The seed mixture ‘Tübinger Mischung’ with only wildflowers attracted most individuals, but the lowest species numbers. Note that no statistical analyses were performed on these data. Five seed mixtures were sown on set-aside areas (minimum 20 m wide and 100 m long) in the autumns of 1993 and 1994. Seed mixtures contained either only grass species (three mixes including three to six species, cost £15-£70/ha), a mix of grasses and herbs (six grass and eight herb species, cost £300/ha) or only herbs 11 species, £35/ha). Birds were recorded during 15 min point counts on 10 occasions between June and September 1995 and July and October 1996. Each bird’s location was recorded in three categories: field boundary, set-aside strip and crop. After each count, the strips were walked to flush any birds present but not visible during the count.

     

  2. Plant nectar flower mixture/wildflower strips for birds

    A replicated, controlled study in summer and autumn of 1995 and 1996 on 15 sown set-aside strips on a farm in Cambridgeshire, UK (Clarke et al. 1997), found that more bird individuals (average 20% of the total) and species (average 56%) used the strips than the adjacent crop area (average 7% of individuals and 33% of species) in both years. However, the highest proportions of both individuals and species were recorded in the field boundaries (average 68% individuals and 80% of species). This study is discussed in detail in ‘Plant grass buffer strips/margins around arable or pasture fields’.

     

  3. Plant grass buffer strips/margins around arable or pasture fields

    A replicated, controlled study in 1995-1996 in Cambridgeshire, UK (Clarke et al. 1997) found that more bird individuals (average 20% of all individual birds recorded) and more bird species (average 56% of all bird species counted in 1995-1996) used the sown set-aside strips than the adjacent crop area (average 7% individuals and 33% species) in both years. Across all habitats 44 species were recorded in 1995 and 31 spp. in 1996. However, the highest proportions of both individuals and species were recorded in field boundaries (average 68% of all individuals and 8% of all spp.). The highest species richness was found in the most species rich grass mix. The seed mixture ‘Tübinger Mischung’ designed to provide nectar for bees (Apidae) and containing only wildflowers attracted the largest number of birds but the lowest number of bird species. Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella, red-legged partridge Alectoris rufa and pheasant Phasianus colchicus were the most recorded species in set-aside strips. Note that no statistical analyses were performed on these data. Five seed mixtures were sown on 15 set-aside areas (minimum 20 m x 100 m) in autumn 1993 and 1994. Seed mixtures contained only grass species (three mixes of three to six species), a mix of grasses and wildflowers (six grass and eight wildflower species) or only wildflowers (11 species). Birds were recorded during 15 minute point counts on 10 occasions between June and September 1995 and July and October 1996. Individual bird locations were recorded in three categories: field boundary, set-aside strip or crop. After each count, the strips were walked to flush any birds present but not visible during the count.

  4. Plant nectar flower mixture/wildflower strips

    A replicated, controlled study in 1995-1996 in Cambridgeshire, UK (Clarke et al. 1997) found a set-aside strip sown with a mix of 11 wildflower species (‘Tübinger Mischung’ or ‘bee mixture’) attracted more birds (average 45-131 individuals) than strips sown with three different grass mixtures (18-121 individuals) or a grass and wildflower mixture (33-100 individuals). However the ‘bee mixture’ attracted the lowest number of bird species (8-15 species). Strips sown with a grass and wildflower mixture attracted more bird species (16-25 species) than the bee mixture, but fewer species than strips sown with a diverse grass mixture (23-33 species). Most of the yellowhammers Emberiza citrinella recorded in the study were found on the bee mixture strip. No statistical analyses were performed on these data. Five seed mixtures were sown on 15 set-aside areas (minimum 20 x 100 m) on one farm in autumn 1993 and 1994. Only one strip was sown with the bee mixture, three to four strips were sown for all other set-aside strips. Seed mixtures contained: only grass species (three mixes of three to six species), mix of grasses and wildflowers (six grass and eight wildflower species) or only wildflowers (11 species). Birds were recorded on ten 15 minute point counts between June and September 1995 and July and October 1996. Individual bird locations were recorded in three categories: field boundary, set-aside strip or crop. After each count, the strips were walked to flush any birds present but not visible during the count.

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