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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: A mixture of cropped and uncropped (with diverse seed mix) established near hedgerows will be of most benefit to farmland birds

Published source details

Vickery J.A., Feber R.E. & Fuller R.J. (2009) Arable field margins managed for biodiversity conservation: a review of food resource provision for farmland birds. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 133, 1-13


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

Plant nectar flower mixture/wildflower strips for birds Bird Conservation

A 2009 literature review of European farmland conservation practices (Vickery et al. 2009) found that the availability of bird food-species was higher in nectar-rich field margins than in crops, and several species used margins planted with wildflower mixes more than grass-only strips (see ‘Plant grass buffer strips/margins around arable or pasture fields’). This study discusses several other field-margin agri-environment options, which are described in the relevant sections.

 

Leave headlands in fields unsprayed (conservation headlands) Bird Conservation

A 2009 literature review of European farmland conservation practices (Vickery et al. 2009) found that gamebirds made frequent use of conservation headlands, for shelter and foraging. The authors note that the effects on non-gamebirds are less certain.

 

Plant wild bird seed or cover mixture Bird Conservation

A 2009 literature review of European farmland conservation practices (Vickery et al. 2009) found that margins sown with wild bird cover crops such as quinoa Chenopodium quinoa and kale provided more food for seed-eating birds in late winter than other field margin types and supported large numbers of some songbird species.

 

Plant wild bird seed or cover mixture Farmland Conservation

A 2009 literature review of European farmland conservation practices (Vickery et al. 2009) found that margins sown with wild bird cover had high numbers of some invertebrates which are important bird food, but lower numbers than on margins sown with a wildflower mix. Cover crops such as quinoa Chenopodium quinoa and kale Brassica oleracea provided more food for seed-eating birds in late winter than other field margin types and supported large numbers of some songbird species.

 

Create uncultivated margins around intensive arable or pasture fields Farmland Conservation

A literature review in 2009 of European farmland conservation practices (Vickery et al. 2009) found that sown uncropped field margins were used by foraging bumblebees Bombus spp. more than other margin types, including naturally regenerated margins. Naturally regenerated margins were found to hold many important food species for birds (both invertebrate and plant). In addition rare plants, such as rough poppy Papaver hybridum, may be found in naturally regenerating margins. The authors argue that on poor soils with a diverse seed bank naturally regenerating margins may have a greater diversity of plants and be of greater conservation value than seeded grass margins, but if soils are rich then they can become dominated by a few species.

Leave headlands in fields unsprayed (conservation headlands) Farmland Conservation

A 2009 literature review of European farmland conservation practices (Vickery et al. 2009) found that rare annual flowers were more abundant in conservation headlands than in adjacent crops, but less abundant than in uncropped field margins. Invertebrates were also more common in conservation headlands than in crops, but less diverse than in uncropped margins. Gamebirds made frequent use of conservation headlands, for shelter and foraging. The authors note that the effects on non-gamebirds are less certain.

 

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

A 2009 literature review of European farmland conservation practices (Vickery et al. 2009) found that sown grass margins had higher arthropod diversity than adjacent crops, and also held higher abundances of soil invertebrates. The availability of bird food-species was also higher than in crops, although use of grass-only strips by several bird species (yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella, red-legged partridge Alectoris rufa, greenfinch Carduelis chloris, linnet C. cannabina) was lower than for margins planted with wildflower mixes.

Plant nectar flower mixture/wildflower strips Farmland Conservation

A 2009 literature review of European farmland conservation practices (Vickery et al. 2009) found that field margins sown with a wildflower mix had higher arthropod diversities than adjacent crops, or margins sown with grass seed only. Several bird species were also found to use wildflower strips more than margins sown with grass seed only.