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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Autumn-sowing of cereals reduces breeding bird numbers in a heterogeneous agricultural landscape

Published source details

Eggers S., Unell M. & Part T. (2011) Autumn-sowing of cereals reduces breeding bird numbers in a heterogeneous agricultural landscape. Biological Conservation, 144, 1137-1144


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

Sow crops in spring rather than autumn Bird Conservation

A replicated, controlled paired sites study in 2004 in Uppsala, Sweden (Eggers et al. 2011), found that there were significantly greater numbers of ground-foraging breeding birds and more species in spring-sown barley than in autumn-sown wheat (0.8 species/ha in spring-sown vs. 0.5 species/ha in autumn-sown plots).  Territory densities of lapwing Vanellus vanellus and wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe were also higher in spring-sown (lapwing: 0.08 territories/ha; wheatear: 0.12) compared to autumn-sown cereal plots (lapwing: 0.02; wheatear: 0.05).  There was no effect of sowing time on skylark Alauda arvensis or yellowhammer Emberiza citronella breeding density.  In spring-sown plots, numbers of species decreased significantly as the proportion of autumn-sown cereals in the surrounding landscape increased.  Forty-one independent pairs of autumn-sown wheat and spring-sown barley plots were selected, each centred on an infield non-crop island.  Non-crop islands were surveyed for cover of trees, shrubs and weeds and cereal height was measured on five occasions in each field.  All birds were recorded within a radius of 100 m from the centre of each plot during five point counts of seven minutes (mid-May - end of June 2004).

 

Plant crops in spring rather than autumn Farmland Conservation

A replicated paired site comparison study in 2004 of autumn-sown wheat and spring-sown barley in Sweden (Eggers et al. 2011) found that there were significantly greater numbers of ground-foraging breeding birds in spring-sown cereals. There were 0.8 species/ha in spring-sown compared to 0.5 species/ha in autumn-sown cereal plots. Territory densities of northern lapwing Vanellus vanellus and northern wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe were also higher in spring-sown (lapwing: 0.08 territories/ha, wheatear: 0.12) compared to autumn-sown cereal plots (lapwing: 0.02; wheatear: 0.05). There was no effect of sowing time on Eurasian skylark Alauda arvensis or yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella breeding density. In spring-sown plots, numbers of species decreased significantly as the proportion of autumn-sown cereals in the surrounding landscape increased. Forty-one independent pairs of autumn-sown wheat and spring-sown barley plots were selected, each centred on an infield non-crop island. Non-crop islands were surveyed for cover of trees, shrubs and weeds and cereal height was measured on five occasions in each field. All birds were recorded within a radius of 100 m from the centre of each plot during five point counts of seven minutes (mid-May to end of June).