Individual study: A review of the effects of non-inversion tillage on seeds and their potential as a farmland bird food source
Cunningham H.M., Chaney K., Bradbury R.B. & Wilcox A. (2004) Non-inversion tillage and farmland birds: a review with special reference to the UK and Europe. Ibis, 146, 192-202
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A 2004 review of the effects of non-inversion tillage (NIT) on farmland bird abundance across the world, with special reference to the UK and Europe (Cunningham et al. 2004) found that the evidence for positive bird responses to NIT is inconclusive. Four studies in North America found higher bird density, diversity and nest productivity on NIT fields and another found greater bird diversity in summer on NIT fields (but not in autumn, winter or spring). Three studies found that Eurasian skylarks Alauda arvensis, gamebirds and seed-eating songbirds are more abundant on NIT fields. However, one study found that NIT fields act as ecological ‘traps’ when nests are destroyed by mechanical weeding. The authors point out that this type of weed control is not common in Europe.
A 2004 review of the effects of non-inversion tillage on beetles (Coleoptera), spiders (Araneae), earthworms (Lumbricidae) and farmland birds across the world, but with special reference to the UK and Europe (Cunningham et al. 2004) found evidence for some positive responses. It found one three-year study from the UK ((Cunningham et al. 2002), Cunningham et al. 2003, (Cunningham et al. 2005)) that found Eurasian skylark Alauda arvensis, gamebirds and seed-eating songbirds were more abundant on non-inversion tillage fields in late winter compared to conventional tillage. Two studies found more beetles in reduced or no tillage plots (Andersen 1999, Holland & Reynolds 2003); four studies found mixed results. Two out of three studies found positive effects of reduced or non-inversion tillage on spiders ((Kendall et al. 1995), Holland & Reynolds 2003). Ten out of 13 studies found positive effects of reduced or non-inversion tillage on earthworms.
Andersen A. (1999) Plant protection in spring cereal production with reduced tillage. II. Pests and beneficial insects. Crop Protection, 18, 651-657.
Cunningham H.M., Chaney K., Bradbury R.B. & Wilcox A. (2003) Non-inversion tillage and farmland birds in winter. Proceedings of the British Crop Protection Council Congress - Crop Science & Technology. Farnham, UK, pp 533-536.
Holland J.M. & Reynolds C.J.M. (2003) The impact of soil cultivation on arthropod (Coleoptera and Araneae) emergence on arable land. Pedobiologia, 47, 181-191.