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Individual study: Sustainable Arable Farming For an Improved Environment (SAFFIE): managing winter wheat sward structure for Skylarks Alauda arvensis

Published source details

Morris A.J., Holland J.M., Smith B. & Jones N.E. (2004) Sustainable Arable Farming For an Improved Environment (SAFFIE): managing winter wheat sward structure for Skylarks Alauda arvensis. Ibis, 146, s155-162


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

Plant cereals in wide-spaced rows Farmland Conservation

A replicated, controlled study from April-August in 2002 and 2003 in 15 winter wheat fields in northern and eastern England (Morris et al. 2004) found that Eurasian skylark Alauda arvensis nests were significantly less abundant on fields with wide-spaced rows than on control fields or those with undrilled patches (0.16 nests/ha in fields with wide-spaced rows vs 0.18 for controls and 0.31 for fields with undrilled patches). The proportion of within-treatment foraging flights decreased over time in control and wide-spaced row fields but remained constant in fields with undrilled patches. Body condition of nestlings decreased in control nests but increased in the other treatments over the breeding season. Invertebrate abundance, particularly beetles (Coleoptera), was significantly lower on wide-spaced row fields. Bare ground was significantly more extensive in wide-spaced row fields. Three treatments were surveyed: winter wheat sown in wide-spaced rows, undrilled patches (4 x 4 m) with a density of 2 patches/ha, and conventional control winter wheat fields. Skylarks were surveyed from April to mid-August, with the number of territorial males, nests, nest productivity, nestling body condition and foraging locations recorded. Invertebrates were sampled in the crop (30 m from nearest field boundary) and in undrilled patches using suction sampling (May-July), sweep netting (May-June) and pitfall traps (June). Vegetation and bare ground cover were surveyed in twenty-four 0.25 m2 permanent quadrats/treatment. Ten of the sites were part of the same replicated, controlled study (SAFFIE – Sustainable Arable Farming For an Improved Environment) as (Ogilvy et al. 2006, Smith & Jones 2007, Smith et al. 2009).

Create skylark plots Farmland Conservation

A replicated, controlled study from April-August in 2002-2003 in 15 sites in northern, eastern and southern England (Morris et al. 2004) found that Eurasian skylark Alauda arvensis breeding density, duration and success were higher in winter wheat fields with undrilled patches (4 x 4 m) than in fields with widely-spaced (25 cm apart) rows or under conventional management (0.3 nests/ha in fields with undrilled plots vs 0.2 for the other treatments). Fields with undrilled patches also lost fewer territorial and nesting birds over the breeding season and by the end of the breeding season nests in these fields produced an average of one more chick than control nests. Body condition of nestlings decreased in control nests over the breeding season but increased in experimental fields. The proportion of within-treatment foraging flights remained constant in fields with undrilled patches but decreased over time in other treatments. Three treatments were surveyed: winter wheat sown in wide-spaced rows, undrilled patches with a density of 2 patches/ha, and conventional control winter wheat fields. Skylarks were surveyed from April to mid-August, with the number of territorial males, nests, nest productivity, nestling body condition and foraging locations recorded. Ten of the sites were part of the same replicated, controlled study (SAFFIE – Sustainable Arable Farming For an Improved Environment) as Ogilvy et al. 2006, Smith & Jones 2007, Smith et al. 2009.

Create skylark plots for bird conservation Bird Conservation

A replicated, controlled study from April-August in 2002-3 in 15 sites in northern and eastern England (Morris et al. 2004) found that Eurasian skylark breeding density, duration and success were higher in winter wheat fields with undrilled patches (4 x 4 m) than in fields with widely-spaced (25 cm apart) rows or under conventional management (0.3 nests/ha in fields with undrilled plots vs. 0.2 for the other treatments). Fields with undrilled patches also lost fewer territorial and nesting birds over the breeding season and by the end of the breeding season nests in these fields produced on average one more chick than control nests. Body condition of nestlings decreased in control nests over the breeding season but increased in experimental fields. The proportion of within-treatment foraging flights remained constant in fields with undrilled patches but decreased over time in other treatments.