Conservation Evidence strives to be as useful to conservationists as possible. Please take our survey to help the team improve our resource.

Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Maximizing the value of stubble fields for granivorous farmland birds in central England

Published source details

Moorcroft D., Whittingham M.J., Bradbury R.B. & Wilson J.D. (2002) The selection of stubble fields by wintering granivorous birds reflects vegetation cover and food abundance. Journal of Applied Ecology, 39, 535-547


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

Leave overwinter stubbles Bird Conservation

A replicated study in the winters of 1997-8 and 1998-9 on 122 stubble fields on 32 farms in central England (Moorcroft et al. 2002) found 13 bird species using stubble fields. Four species (Eurasian linnet Carduelis cannabina, Eurasian skylark Alauda arvensis, reed bunting E. schoeniclus and corn bunting Miliaria calandria) were found more frequently on intensively-farmed barley stubbles than intensive or organic wheat, whilst woodpigeons Columba palumbus were found most frequently on organic wheat.

 

Leave overwinter stubbles Farmland Conservation

A replicated study in the winters of 1997-1998 and 1998-1999 on 122 stubble fields on 32 farms in central England (Moorcroft et al. 2002) found that 13 bird species were found using stubble fields. Four species (Eurasian linnet Carduelis cannabina, Eurasian skylark Alauda arvensis, reed bunting Emberiza schoeniclus and corn bunting Miliaria calandria) were found more frequently on intensively-farmed barley Hordeum spp. stubbles than intensive or organic wheat Triticum spp., whilst woodpigeons Columba palumbus were found most frequently on organic wheat. Intensive barley stubbles had the highest cover of weeds (51% cover on intensive barley, 40% on intensive wheat, 28% on organic wheat). Weed seed densities in March were highest on undersown organic wheat stubble fields compared to intensive barley or wheat stubbles. Weed seed density decreased the least on undersown organic wheat stubbles between October and March compared to intensive barley or wheat stubbles (11% decline on undersown organic wheat stubbles, 23% decline on intensive wheat stubbles, 35% decline on intensive barley). Seventeen stubble fields contained organic wheat with the previous crop undersown with rye grass Lolium spp. and white clover Trifolium repens. Sixty-seven fields were managed for intensive wheat and 38 fields for intensive barley, both intensively-managed crops received inorganic fertilizer and pesticide applications. Each study field was either overwintering as stubble or entered into the first year of a set-aside scheme. Plants were surveyed in forty 20 x 20 cm quadrats in each field in October. Seed densities were recorded in 27 fields from 10 soil cores/field in October 1997 and March 1998. Birds were surveyed monthly on parallel transects.

 

Undersow spring cereals, with clover for example Farmland Conservation

A replicated study in the winters of 1997-1998 and 1998-1999 on 122 stubble fields on 32 farms in central England (Moorcroft et al. 2002) found that of five bird species using stubble fields, only one species, woodpigeon Columba palumbus was found most frequently on undersown organic wheat Triticum spp. stubbles. Eurasian linnet Carduelis cannabina, Eurasian skylark Alauda arvensis, reed bunting Emberiza schoeniclus and corn bunting Miliaria calandria were found more frequently on intensively-farmed barley Hordeum spp. stubbles than intensive or undersown organic wheat. Weed seed densities in March were highest on undersown organic wheat stubble fields compared to intensive barley or wheat stubbles. Weed seed density decreased the least on undersown organic wheat stubbles between October and March compared to intensive barley or wheat stubbles (11% decline on undersown organic wheat stubbles, 23% decline on intensive wheat stubbles, 35% decline on intensive barley). Seventeen stubble fields contained organic wheat with the previous crop undersown with rye grass Lolium spp. and white clover Trifolium repens. Sixty-seven fields were managed for intensive wheat and 38 fields for intensive barley, both intensively-managed crops received inorganic fertilizer and pesticide applications. Each study field was either overwintering as stubble or entered into the first year of a set-aside scheme. Plants were surveyed in forty 20 x 20 cm quadrats in each field in October. Seed densities were recorded in 27 fields from 10 soil cores/field in October 1997 and March 1998. Birds were surveyed monthly on parallel transects.