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Individual study: Wild bird and wildflower seed mix provide wildlife benefits in arable land; a two year study on a farm in Warwickshire, UK

Published source details

Pywell R. & Nowakowski M. (2007) Farming for Wildlife Project: Annual Report 2006/7. NERC report.


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

Create uncultivated margins around intensive arable or pasture fields for birds Bird Conservation

A replicated controlled trial on one farm in Warwickshire, UK in 2005-2006 (Pywell & Noweakowski 2007) found that field corners or margins left to naturally regenerate for one year did not have more birds in winter (species or individuals) than control crop plots.  Average counts were one bird/plot or fewer for both treatments. The plots were left as unmanaged wheat stubble for all of 2006. The crop, oats, was sown in October 2005. Each treatment was tested in one section of margin and one corner in each of four fields. Farmland birds were counted on each plot on seven counts between December 2006 and March 2007.

 

Plant nectar flower mixture/wildflower strips for birds Bird Conservation

A replicated controlled trial on one farm in Warwickshire, UK in 2005-2006 (Pywell & Nowakowski 2007) found that field corners or margins sown with a wildflower mix did not have more birds in winter (species or individuals) than control crop plots. Average counts were close to zero birds/plot for both. The wildflower mix (25 broadleaved non-grass species, making up 10% by weight, with 90% grass from four species) was sown in August 2005 and treated with graminicide in November 2005. Plots were cut three times in 2006, and cuttings removed.  The crop, oats, was sown in October 2005. Each treatment was tested in one section of margin and one corner in each of four fields. Farmland birds were counted on each plot on seven counts between December 2006 and March 2007.

 

Plant wild bird seed or cover mixture Bird Conservation

A replicated controlled trial on one farm in Warwickshire, UK in 2005-2006 (Pywell & Nowakowski 2007) found that field corners or margins sown with a wild bird seed mix had more birds and bird species in winter than all other treatments. Fifty-five birds/plot from four species on average were recorded on the wild bird seed plots, compared to 0.1-1 bird/plot, or 0.1-0.7 species on average on control crop plots, plots sown with wildflower seed mix or left to naturally regenerate. The wild bird seed mix (five species) was sown in April 2006 and fertilised in late May 2006. The crop, oats, was sown in October 2005. Each treatment was tested in one section of margin and one corner in each of four fields. Farmland birds were counted on each plot on seven counts between December 2006 and March 2007.

 

Plant wild bird seed or cover mixture Farmland Conservation

A replicated controlled trial in 2005-2006 in Warwickshire, UK (Pywell & Nowakowski 2007) found that field corners or margins sown with a wild bird seed mix had more birds and bird species in winter than all other treatments, and more plant species, bumblebees Bombus spp. and butterflies (Lepidoptera) (individuals and species) than control plots sown with winter oats. Fifty-five birds/plot from four species on average were recorded on the wild bird seed plots compared to 0.1-1 bird/plot and 0.1-0.7 species on average on control crop plots, plots sown with wildflower seed mix and plots left to naturally regenerate. There were 11 plant species/m2 , 25 bumblebees and four bumblebee species/plot, 25 butterflies and six butterfly species/plot on wild bird seed plots, compared to two plant species/m2, no bumblebees, one butterfly and 0.9 butterfly species/plot in control cereal crop plots. Each treatment was tested in one section of margin and one corner in each of four fields. The wild bird seed mix (five species) was sown in April 2006 and fertilized in late May 2006. The crop (oats) was sown in October 2005. Plants were monitored in three 1 m2 quadrats/plot in July 2006. Butterflies, bumblebees and flowering plants were recorded on a 6 m-wide transect five times between July and September 2006. Farmland birds were counted on each plot on seven counts between December 2006 and March 2007. The second monitoring year of the same study is presented in (Pywell & Nowakowski 2008).

 

Create uncultivated margins around intensive arable or pasture fields Farmland Conservation

A replicated controlled trial in 2005-2006 in Warwickshire, UK (Pywell & Nowakowski 2007) found that field corners or margins left to naturally regenerate for one year had more bumblebees Bombus spp. (species and individuals) than control crop plots, or plots sown with wild bird seed or wildflower seed mix. There were 55 bumblebees and five bumblebee species/plot on average on naturally regenerated plots, compared to no bumblebees on control crop plots and seven bumblebees of two species/plot on sown plots. Naturally regenerated plots also had more butterfly and plant species than control cereal plots (5-6 butterfly species/plot and 7 plant species/m2, compared to 1 butterfly species/plot and 2 plant species/m2 in cereal crop plots). Naturally regenerated plots did not have more butterfly individuals, or more birds in winter (species or individuals) than control crop plots. Plots were located on one farm and were left as unmanaged wheat stubble for all of 2006. Each treatment was tested in one section of margin and one corner in each of four fields. Plants were monitored in three 1 m2 quadrats/plot in July 2006. Butterflies, bumblebees and flowering plants were recorded in a 6 m wide transect, five times between July and September. Farmland birds were counted on each plot on seven counts between December 2006 and March 2007.

 

Plant nectar flower mixture/wildflower strips Farmland Conservation

A replicated controlled trial in 2005-2006 in Warwickshire, UK (Pywell & Nowakowski 2007) found that field corners or margins sown with a wildflower mix had more plant species, more bumblebees Bombus spp. (species and individuals) and more butterfly (Lepidoptera) species than control plots sown with winter oats. There were 17 plant species/m2, 7 bumblebees and 2 bumblebee species/plot, and 5 butterfly species/plot on average in wildflower plots, compared to 2 plant species/m2, no bumblebees and one butterfly species/plot in cereal crop plots. Two declining butterfly species, small copper Lycaena phlaeas and common blue Polyommatus icarus were only found in wildflower plots. Wildflower plots did not have more butterfly individuals, or more birds in winter (species or individuals) than control crop plots. The wildflower mix (25 broadleaved non-grass species, four grass species 10%:90% wildflowers to grasses by weight) was sown in August 2005 and treated with grass-specific herbicide in November 2005. Plots were cut three times in 2006, and cuttings removed. Each treatment was tested in one section of margin and one corner in each of four fields on one farm. Plants were monitored in three 1 m2 quadrats/plot in July 2006. Butterflies, bumblebees and flowering plants were recorded in a 6 m-wide transect five times between July and September. Farmland birds were counted on each plot on seven counts between December 2006 and March 2007. Results from the second year of monitoring are presented in (Pywell & Nowakowski 2008).