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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: A review of the effect of agricultural intensification and the role of set-aside on the conservation of farmland wildlife

Published source details

Sotherton N. (1998) Land use changes and the decline of farmland wildlife: an appraisal of the set-aside approach. Biological conservation, 83, 259-268


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

Plant crops in spring rather than autumn Farmland Conservation

A 1998 literature review (Sotherton 1998) looked at the effect of agricultural intensification and the role of set-aside on the conservation of farmland wildlife, particularly endangered annual arable wildflowers and gamebirds. It found one UK study comparing arable weeds in spring and autumn-sown cereals showing that rough poppy Papaver hybridum, shepherd's-needle Scandix pecten-veneris, corn buttercup Ranunculus arvensis and common corncockle Agrostemma githago produced significantly more fruits/plot in autumn-sown than spring-sown cereals. In contrast broad-fruited cornsalad Valerianella rimosa produced significantly more fruits in spring-sown crops (Wilson 1994).

Additional reference:

Wilson P. J. (1994) Botanical diversity in arable field margins. Pages 53-58 in: N. D. Boatman (ed) Field Margins-Integrating Agriculture and Conservation, BCPC Monographs, 58.

Leave headlands in fields unsprayed (conservation headlands) Bird Conservation

A 1998 literature review (Sotherton 1998) found three studies, two in the UK (Rands 1985 and Rands et al. 1986 described above) and one in Sweden, showing that gamebird (grey partridge Perdix perdix) chick survival rates were significantly higher in conservation headlands with reduced pesticide inputs compared to controls receiving the usual pesticide application.

 

Provide or retain set-aside areas in farmland Farmland Conservation

A literature review (Sotherton 1998) looked at the effect of agricultural intensification and the role of set-aside on the conservation of farmland wildlife.  It found one study that demonstrated a three-fold increase in insect density on rotational set-aside compared to conventional cereals, mainly due to increases in plant hoppers and beetle families (Carabidae, Staphylinidae and Chrysomelidae; described above (Moreby & Aebischer 1992)).

Leave headlands in fields unsprayed (conservation headlands) Farmland Conservation

A 1998 literature review (Sotherton 1998) looked at the effect of agricultural intensification and the role of set-aside on the conservation of farmland wildlife, particularly gamebirds and endangered annual arable wildflowers. It found a replicated study on farms in three English counties showing that there were greater numbers of arable weed species in headland plots of winter cereals that received no herbicide and fertilizer (23 species) compared to those that received fertilizer (no herbicide, 20 species) and the controls (normal fertilizer and herbicide applications, 6-8 species) (Wilson 1994). A further three studies were found, two in the UK (Rands 1985, Rands & Sotherton 1986) and one in Sweden (Chiverton 1999) showing that gamebird (grey partridge Perdix perdix) chick survival rates were significantly higher in conservation headlands with reduced pesticide inputs compared to controls receiving the usual pesticide application.

Additional references:

Wilson P.J. (1994) Botanical diversity in arable field margins. British Crop Protection Council Monographs, 58, 53-58.

Chiverton P.A. (1999) The benefits of unsprayed cereal crop margins to grey partridges Perdix perdix and pheasants Phasianus colchicus in Sweden. Wildlife Biology, 5, 83–92.