Conservation Evidence strives to be as useful to conservationists as possible. Please take our survey to help the team improve our resource.

Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Seed eating songbirds, swallows and martins prefer cereal (wheat and barley) fields planted in livestock areas; a study in northern England

Published source details

Mortimer S.R. (2007) Cereal-based whole crop silages: potential biodiversity benefits of cereal production in pastoral landscapes. Aspects of Applied Biology, 81, 77-86


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

Plant cereals for whole crop silage Farmland Conservation

A replicated trial in 2004-2006 in northwest England (Mortimer et al. 2007) found that seed-eating songbirds and swallows and martins (Hirundinidae) were more abundant on cereal (wheat and barley) fields planted in livestock areas compared to grass silage and maize fields. For example, in winter 2005-2006, 1390-1564 seed-eating birds were recorded on barley stubbles compared to 48 on grass fields and 406 on maize. Large insect-eating birds (thrushes: Turdidae) were far more abundant on grass fields in winter (2,272 birds in total, compared to 28-789 on other field types). Important bird food plants - annual meadow grass Poa annua, field pansy Viola arvensis and chickweed Stellaria media, were more abundant in cereal crops than in maize, and in November and February were more abundant in barley stubbles than replanted wheat, maize or grass fields (only in November for chickweed). Beetles (Coleoptera), flies (Diptera) and bees, wasps, sawflies and ants (Hymenoptera) were more abundant in wheat, barley and grass fields than in maize. Winter wheat and spring barley were sown in 16 trial fields, each on a separate farm in Cheshire, Staffordshire and north Shropshire. Neighbouring maize or short-term grass silage fields were monitored for comparison. Plants, invertebrates and birds were monitored on each field, in summer 2005 and winter 2005-2006.

Plant cereals for whole crop silage Bird Conservation

A replicated, controlled trial in 2004-2006 in northwest England (Mortimer et al. 2007) found that seed-eating songbirds and swallows and martins were more abundant on cereal (wheat and barley) fields planted in livestock areas than in grass and maize fields. In winter 2005/6, 1,390-1,564 seed-eaters were recorded on barley stubbles compared to 48 on grass fields and 406 on maize. Large insect-eating birds (thrushes) were far more abundant on grass fields in winter (2,272 birds in total, compared to 28-789 on other field types. Winter wheat and spring barley were sown in 16 trial fields, each on a separate farm in Cheshire, Staffordshire and north Shropshire. Neighbouring maize or short-term grass silage fields were monitored for comparison. Plants, invertebrates and birds were monitored on each field, in summer 2005 and winter 2005/06.

 

Reduce pesticide or herbicide use generally Bird Conservation

A replicated trial in 2004-2006 in northwest England (Mortimer et al. 2007) found no differences in bird numbers between conventional and minimum input barley fields. Sixteen trial fields were sown with spring barley each on a separate dairy or mixed farm in Cheshire, Staffordshire and north Shropshire. One half of each barley field was managed conventionally, the other half managed with minimum pesticide inputs (no insecticide after 15 March, no broad-leaved herbicide after 31 March, limited graminicides). Birds were monitored on each field, in summer 2005 and winter 2005/06.

 

Reduce fertilizer, pesticide or herbicide use generally Farmland Conservation

A replicated trial in 2004-2006 in Cheshire, Staffordshire and north Shropshire, England (Mortimer et al. 2007) found no differences in plant, insect or bird numbers between conventional and minimum input barley fields. Sixteen trial fields were sown with spring barley each on a separate dairy or mixed farm. One half of each barley field was managed conventionally, the other half managed with minimum pesticide inputs (no insecticide after 15 March, no broadleaved herbicide after 31 March, limited grass-specific herbicide). Plants, invertebrates and birds were monitored on each field, in summer 2005 and winter 2005-2006.