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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Mixed results of agri-environment schemes and options on arable farms in central and east England

Published source details

Stevens D.K. & Bradbury R.B. (2006) Effects of the Arable Stewardship Pilot Scheme on breeding birds at field and farm-scales. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 112, 283-290


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

Leave uncropped, cultivated margins or plots, including lapwing and stone curlew plots Bird Conservation

A replicated study in 1999 and 2003 on 256 arable and pastoral fields across 84 farms in East Anglia and the West Midlands, England (Stevens & Bradbury 2006), found that only reed buntings Emberiza schoeniclus (out of 12 farmland birds analysed) were strongly and positively associated with uncropped, cultivated strips. No other species showed a strong association (positive or negative) with the strips. This study describes several other interventions, discussed in the relevant sections.

 

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

A replicated study in 1999 and 2003 on 256 arable and pastoral fields across 84 farms in East Anglia and the West Midlands, England (Stevens & Bradbury 2006), found that a combination of creating planted (see ‘Plant grass buffer strips/margins around arable or pasture fields’) and uncultivated margins around fields was strongly positively associated with four out of twelve farmland bird species analysed. These were skylark Alauda arvensis (a field-nesting species) and chaffinche Fringilla coelebs, whitethroat Sylvia communis and yellowhammers Emberiza citrinella (all boundary-nesting species). The study did not distinguish between uncultivated and planted margins. This study describes several other interventions, discussed in the relevant sections.

 

Reduce pesticide or herbicide use generally Bird Conservation

A replicated study in 1999 and 2003 on farms in East Anglia and the West Midlands, England (Stevens & Bradbury 2006), found that five of twelve farmland bird species analysed were positively associated with a general reduction in herbicide use and conservation headlands. This study is discussed in more detail in ‘Leave headlands in fields unsprayed (conservation headlands)’.

 

Create beetle banks Bird Conservation

A replicated study in 1999 and 2003 on 256 arable and pastoral fields across 84 farms in East Anglia and the West Midlands, England (Stevens & Bradbury 2006), found that none of 12 species of farmland bird were strongly associated (either positively or negatively) with beetle banks. The species analysed were skylark Alauda arvensis, corn bunting Miliaria calandra, lapwing Vanellus vanellus, yellow wagtail Motacilla flava, chaffinch Fringilla coelebs, dunnock Prunella modularis, greenfinch Carduelis chloris, linnet C. cannabina, reed bunting Emberiza schoeniclus, tree sparrow Passer montanus, whitethroat Sylvia communis and yellowhammer E. citrinella. This study describes several other interventions, discussed in ‘Leave headlands in fields unsprayed (conservation headlands)’; ‘Leave uncropped, cultivated margins or plots, including lapwing and stone curlew plots’; ‘Leave overwinter stubbles’; ‘Plant grass buffer strips/margins around arable or pasture fields’; ‘Create uncultivated margins around intensive arable or pasture fields’; ‘Plant wild bird seed or cover mixture’; ‘Provide or retain set-aside areas in farmland’; ‘Pay farmers to cover the costs of conservation measures’ and ‘Reduce pesticide or herbicide use generally’.

 

Leave overwinter stubbles Bird Conservation

A replicated study in 1999 and 2003 on 256 arable and pastoral fields across 84 farms in East Anglia and the West Midlands, England (Stevens & Bradbury 2006), found that only two of 12 farmland bird species analysed were positively associated with the provision of overwinter stubble, set-aside areas (see ‘Provide or retain set-aside areas in farmland’) or wildlife seed mixtures (see ‘Plant wild bird seed or cover mixture’). These were Eurasian skylarks Alauda arvensis (a field-nesting species) and Eurasian linnets Carduelis cannabina (a boundary-nesting species). The study did not distinguish between set-aside, wildlife seed mixtures or overwinter stubble, classing all as interventions to provide seeds for farmland birds. This study describes several other interventions, discussed in the relevant sections.

 

Leave cultivated, uncropped margins or plots (includes 'lapwing plots') Farmland Conservation

A replicated study in 1999 and 2003 on 256 arable and pastoral fields across 84 farms in East Anglia and the West Midlands, UK (Stevens & Bradbury 2006) found that only one out of 12 farmland bird species, reed bunting Emberiza schoeniclus, was strongly and positively associated with uncropped, cultivated strips. No other species showed a strong association (positive or negative) with the strips.

 

Plant grass buffer strips/margins around arable or pasture fields for birds Bird Conservation

A replicated study in 1999 and 2003 on 256 arable and pastoral fields across 84 farms in East Anglia and the West Midlands, England (Stevens & Bradbury 2006), found that a combination of creating uncultivated (see ‘Create uncultivated margins around intensive arable or pasture fields’) and planted margins around fields was strongly positively associated with four out of 12 farmland bird species analysed. These were skylarks Alauda arvensis (a field-nesting species) and chaffinches Fringilla coelebs, whitethroats Sylvia communis and yellowhammers Emberiza citrinella (all boundary-nesting species). The study did not distinguish between uncultivated and planted margins. This study describes several other interventions, discussed in ‘Leave headlands in fields unsprayed (conservation headlands)’; ‘Create beetle banks’; ‘Leave uncropped, cultivated margins or plots, including lapwing and stone curlew plots’; ‘Leave overwinter stubbles’; ‘Plant wild bird seed or cover mixture’; ‘Provide or retain set-aside areas in farmland’; ‘Pay farmers to cover the costs of conservation measures’; ‘Reduce pesticide or herbicide use generally’.

 

Leave headlands in fields unsprayed (conservation headlands) Bird Conservation

A replicated study in 1999 and 2003 on farms in East Anglia and the West Midlands, England (Stevens & Bradbury 2006), found that five of twelve farmland bird species analysed were positively associated with conservation headlands and a general reduction in herbicide use (see separate intervention). These were corn bunting Miliaria calandra (a field-nesting species) and chaffinch Fringilla coelebs, greenfinch Carduelis chloris, whitethroat Sylvia communis, and yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella (all boundary-nesting species). The study did not distinguish between conservation headlands and a general reduction in herbicide use, classing both as interventions reducing pesticide use. A total of 256 arable and pastoral fields across 84 farms were surveyed. Several other interventions are also analysed and discussed in the relevant sections.

 

Leave overwinter stubbles Farmland Conservation

A replicated study in 1999 and 2003 on 256 arable and pastoral fields across 84 farms in East Anglia and the West Midlands, England (Stevens & Bradbury 2006) found that only two of twelve farmland bird species analysed were positively associated with the provision of overwinter stubble, set-aside or wildlife seed mixtures. The two species were Eurasian skylark Alauda arvensis (a field-nesting species) and Eurasian linnet Carduelis cannabina (a boundary-nesting species). The study did not distinguish between set-aside, wildlife seed mixtures or overwinter stubble, classing all as interventions to provide seeds for farmland birds.

 

Pay farmers to cover the costs of bird conservation measures Bird Conservation

A replicated study in 1999 and 2003 on 84 farms in East Anglia and the West Midlands, England (Stevens & Bradbury 2006), found that only three species (two in East Anglia, one in the West Midlands) showed a significant positive response to the introduction of agri-environment schemes, whilst one showed a significant negative effect. Meadow pipits Anthus pratensis, carrion crows Corvus corone and reed buntings either declined less or increased on farms under agri-environment schemes, compared to conventionally managed farms,. Corn buntings Miliaria calandra declined significantly faster on agri-environment scheme farms. Overall, only six species showed any positive response (significant or not) in both regions, ten showed negative responses in both and 12 showed a positive response in one region and a negative response in the other. The impacts of individual management options are discussed in the relevant interventions.

Provide or retain set-aside areas in farmland Bird Conservation

A replicated study in 1999 and 2003 on 256 arable and pastoral fields across 84 farms in East Anglia and the West Midlands, England (Stevens & Bradbury 2006), found that only two of twelve farmland bird species analysed were positively associated with the provision of set-aside, wildlife seed mixtures (see ‘Plant wild bird seed or cover mix’) or overwinter stubble (see ‘Leave overwinter stubbles’). These were skylarks Alauda arvensis (a field-nesting species) and linnets Carduelis cannabina (a boundary-nesting species). The study did not distinguish between set-aside, wildlife seed mixtures or overwinter stubble, classing all as interventions to provide seeds for farmland birds. This study describes several other interventions, discussed in the relevant section.

Plant wild bird seed or cover mixture Bird Conservation

A replicated study in 1999 and 2003 on 256 arable and pastoral fields across 84 farms in East Anglia and the West Midlands, England (Stevens & Bradbury 2006), found that only two of twelve farmland bird species analysed were positively associated with the provision of wildlife seed mixtures, overwinter stubble (see ‘Leave overwinter stubbles’) or set-aside (see ‘Provide or retain set-aside areas in farmland’). These were Eurasian skylarks (a field-nesting species) and Eurasian linnets Carduelis cannabina (a boundary-nesting species). The study did not distinguish between set-aside, wildlife seed mixtures or overwinter stubble, classing all as interventions to provide seeds for farmland birds.

 

Create beetle banks Farmland Conservation

A replicated study in 1999 and 2003 on 256 arable and pastoral fields across 84 farms in East Anglia and the West Midlands, UK (Stevens & Bradbury 2006) found that out of 12 farmland bird species, none were strongly associated (either positively or negatively) with beetle banks. The species analysed were skylark Alauda arvensis, corn bunting Miliaria calandra, lapwing Vanellus vanellus, yellow wagtail Motacilla flava, chaffinch Fringilla coelebs, dunnock Prunella modularis, greenfinch Carduelis chloris, Eurasian linnet C. cannabina, reed bunting Emberiza schoeniclus, tree sparrow Passer montanus, whitethroat Sylvia communis and yellowhammer E. citrinella.

Plant wild bird seed or cover mixture Farmland Conservation

A replicated study in 1999 and 2003 on 256 arable and pastoral fields across 84 farms in East Anglia and the West Midlands, England (Stevens & Bradbury 2006), found that only two of twelve farmland bird species analysed were positively associated with the provision of wildlife seed mixtures, overwinter stubble or set aside. These were Eurasian skylark Alauda arvensis (a field-nesting species) and Eurasian linnet Carduelis cannabina (a boundary-nesting species). The study did not distinguish between set-aside, wildlife seed mixtures or overwinter stubble, classing all as interventions to provide seeds for farmland birds.

 

Pay farmers to cover the cost of conservation measures (as in agri-environment schemes) Farmland Conservation

A replicated study in 1999 and 2003 on 84 farms in East Anglia and the West Midlands, UK (Stevens & Bradbury 2006) found that only three bird species (two in East Anglia, one in the West Midlands) showed a significant positive response to the introduction of agri-environment schemes (Arable Stewardship Pilot Scheme), whilst one showed a significant negative effect. Meadow pipit Anthus pratensis, carrion crow Corvus corone and reed bunting Emberiza schoeniclus either declined less or increased on farms under agri-environment schemes, compared to conventionally managed ‘control’ farms. Corn bunting Miliaria calandra declined significantly faster on agri-environment scheme farms. Overall, only six species showed any positive response (significant or not) in both regions. Ten species showed negative responses in both regions and 12 showed a positive response in one region and a negative response in the other. This study was part of the same monitoring project as (Bradbury & Allen 2003, Browne & Aebischer 2003, Bradbury et al. 2004).

 

Reduce fertilizer, pesticide or herbicide use generally Farmland Conservation

A replicated study in 1999 and 2003 on farms in East Anglia and the West Midlands, UK (Stevens & Bradbury 2006) found that five of 12 farmland bird species analysed were positively associated with a general reduction in herbicide use and conservation headlands. The study did not distinguish between conservation headlands and a general reduction in herbicide use, classing both as interventions reducing pesticide use. The five species positively associated with reducing pesticide use were corn bunting Miliaria calandra (a field-nesting species), chaffinch Fringilla coelebs, greenfinch Carduelis chloris, whitethroat Sylvia communis, and yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella (all boundary-nesting species). A total of 256 arable and pastoral fields across 84 farms were surveyed.

 

Create uncultivated margins around intensive arable or pasture fields Farmland Conservation

A replicated study in 1999 and 2003 on arable and pastoral fields in the UK (Stevens & Bradbury 2006), found that a combination of creating uncultivated and planted margins around fields was strongly positively associated with the presence of four out of twelve farmland bird species analysed. These species were Eurasian skylark Alauda arvensis (a field-nesting species), chaffinch Fringilla coelebs, whitethroat Sylvia communis and yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella (all boundary-nesting species). The other species analysed were corn bunting Miliaria calandra, lapwing Vanellus vanellus, yellow wagtail Motacilla flava, dunnock Prunella modularis, greenfinch Carduelis chloris, linnet C. cannabina, reed bunting E. schoeniclus and tree sparrow Passer montanus. The study did not distinguish between uncultivated and planted margins. On the 256 study fields, birds were recorded using territory-mapping techniques between 1 April and 31 July 2003. Sites were visited eight times and all registrations plotted on a farm map. Territories were assigned a habitat unit based on their location.

Plant grass buffer strips/margins around arable or pasture fields Farmland Conservation

A replicated study in 1999 and 2003 in East Anglia and the West Midlands, England, UK (Stevens & Bradbury 2006) found that a combination of creating uncultivated and planted margins around fields was strongly positively associated with four out of twelve farmland bird species analysed. These were skylark Alauda arvensis (a field-nesting species) and chaffinch Fringilla coelebs, whitethroat Sylvia communis and yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella (all boundary-nesting species). The study did not distinguish between uncultivated and planted margins. The study was carried out on 256 arable and pastoral fields on 84 farms.

Provide or retain set-aside areas in farmland Farmland Conservation

A replicated controlled site comparison in 1999 and 2003 on 256 arable and pastoral fields across 84 farms in East Anglia and the West Midlands, England (Stevens & Bradbury 2006) found that only two of twelve farmland bird species analysed were positively associated with the provision of set-aside, wildlife seed mixtures or overwinter stubble. These were skylark Alauda arvensis (a field-nesting species) and linnet Carduelis cannabina (a boundary-nesting species). The study did not distinguish between set-aside, wildlife seed mixtures or overwinter stubble, classing all as interventions to provide seeds for farmland birds.

 

Leave headlands in fields unsprayed (conservation headlands) Farmland Conservation

A replicated study in 1999 and 2003 on farms in East Anglia and the West Midlands, UK (Stevens & Bradbury 2006) found that five of 12 farmland bird species analysed were positively associated with conservation headlands and a general reduction in herbicide use. These were corn bunting Miliaria calandra (a field-nesting species), chaffinch Fringilla coelebs, greenfinch Carduelis chloris, whitethroat Sylvia communis, and yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella (all boundary-nesting species). The study did not distinguish between conservation headlands and a general reduction in herbicide use, classing both as interventions reducing pesticide use. A total of 256 arable and pastoral fields across 84 farms were surveyed.