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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Spring-sown barley fields provide greater food resources and exhibit higher bird usage than maize or grass silage fields

Published source details

Peach W.J., Dodd S., Westbury D.B., Mortimer S.R., Lewis P., Brook A.J., Harris S.J., Kessock-Philip R., Buckingham D.L. & Chaney K. (2011) Cereal-based wholecrop silages: A potential convservation measure for farmland birds in pastoral landscapes. Biological Conservation, 836-850


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

An update of (Mortimer et al. 2007) included data from winter 2004-2005 (Peach et al. 2011) and found that cereal-based whole crop silage fields were used significantly more by farmland birds than other crop types. Each farm contained two cereal-based whole crop silage fields (autumn-sown wheat, 5.3 ha, and spring-sown barley, 4.4 ha), one maize field (6.1 ha) and one grass field (2.1 ha). During summer, a total of 1,535 seed-eating birds and 1,901 swallows and martins (Hirundinidae) were found on barley cereal-based whole crop silage fields, compared with 847 and 197 for wheat cereal-based whole crop silage fields, 441 and 95 for maize fields, and 41 and 480 for grass fields. Northern lapwing Vanellus vanellus, insect-eating species, and crows (Corvidae) did not use cereal-based whole crop silage fields more than other types in summer. In winter, seed-eating species (seed-eating songbirds, Eurasian skylark Alauda arvensis, meadow pipit Anthus pratensis) used barley stubbles extensively, whilst insect-eating species used other crop stubbles more. The authors argue that cereal-based whole crop silage (with selectively applied herbicide, retention of over-winter stubbles and delayed harvesting) offer a practical conservation measure for seed-eating farmland birds. This study uses data from Defra report number BD1448 (Defra 2007).

Additional reference:

Defra (2007) Cereal-based whole crop silages: a potential conservation mechanism for farmland birds in pastoral landscapes. Defra report number BD1448.

Plant cereals for whole crop silage Bird Conservation

An update of Mortimer et al. 2007 included data from winter 2004/5 (Peach et al. 2011) and found that CBWCS fields were used significantly more by farmland birds than other crop types. Each farm contained two CBWCS fields (autumn-sown wheat, 5.3 ha, and spring-sown barley, 4.4 ha), one maize field (6.1 ha) and one grass field (2.1 ha). During summer, a total of 1,535 seed-eaters and 1,901 swallows and martins were found on barley CBWCS fields, compared with 847 and 197 for wheat CBWCS fields; 441 and 95 for maize fields; and 41 and  480 for grass fields. Northern lapwing Vanellus vanellus, insect-eating species, and crows did not use CBWCS fields more than other types in summer. In winter, seed-eating species (seed-eating songbirds, Eurasian skylark Alauda arvensis, meadow pipit Anthus pratensis) used barley stubbles extensively, whilst insect-eating species used other crop stubbles more. The authors argue that CBWCS (with selectively applied herbicide, retention of over-winter stubbles and delayed harvesting) offer a practical conservation measure for seed-eating farmland birds. This study uses data from Defra report number BD1448 (Defra 2007).

 

Reduce pesticide or herbicide use generally Bird Conservation

A replicated, controlled study from April-July and November-February in 2004-6 on 16 livestock farms in the West Midlands, England (Peach et al. 2011), found that there were no differences in the usage of barley fields between fields sprayed with only a narrow-spectrum herbicide (amidosulfuron, at 25-40 g/ha) and those sprayed with both a narrow- and a broad-spectrum herbicide. Insect-eating songbirds and crows showed reduced use of broad-spectrum-sprayed fields in summer and late summer respectively, but all other groups used fields at equal rates. Barley fields on the farms were split, with half being used for each treatment. Narrow-spectrum herbicide was applied in April-May and broad-spectrum in July.

 

Reduce fertilizer, pesticide or herbicide use generally Farmland Conservation

A replicated, controlled study from April-July and November-February in 2004-2006 on 16 livestock farms in the West Midlands, England (Peach et al. 2011) found that there were no differences in bird usage of barley fields between fields sprayed with only a narrow-spectrum herbicide (amidosulfuron, at 25-40 g/ha) and those sprayed with both a narrow- and a broad-spectrum herbicide. Broadleaved plant cover was higher on plots treated with only a narrow-spectrum herbicide, but only in the first year of barley production. Invertebrate biomass did not differ between treatments. Insect-eating songbirds and crows (Corvidae) showed reduced use of broad-spectrum-sprayed fields in summer and late summer respectively, but all other groups used fields at equal rates. Barley fields on the farms were split, with half being used for each treatment. Narrow-spectrum herbicide was applied in April-May and broad spectrum in July. All plots were treated with mineral fertilizer, many received fungicide applications but very few received insecticides.