Their report, Enhancing Arable Biodiversity, published today after a five-year study, identifies six techniques, to encourage arable wildlife, that would help reverse the declines of species such as skylarks, yellow wagtails and yellowhammers.
The study, by the 21 farming, environment and research groups that form SAFFIE - Sustainable Arable Farming For an Improved Environment – says farm profits would not be affected provided the government gave farmers appropriate support.
James Clarke, SAFFIE Project Director, said: “More than 20 per cent of farmland is arable and half of that is used for autumn-sown crops, which means fields and margins in summer can be too dense for birds seeking nesting sites and food for their young.
“Winter cereals are important for food and biofuels. The measures suggested by the SAFFIE research could enhance farmland biodiversity and are compatible with modern arable farming. This is a real opportunity for the government to meet its targets for reversing the decline of farmland birds. It’s about providing bed and breakfast for farmland birds.”
Research for the £3.5 million SAFFIE project was carried out on 36 farms in England and Scotland.
It found that skylark plots – small bare patches in arable fields – together with strips of grasses and wild flowers on field edges, increased the numbers of some birds by between three and four fold.
Plant diversity and open spaces in these strips were important because they encouraged beetles, which are sought by birds as food for their young, and allowed birds access to them. Using an herbicide to control fast growing grasses allowed other plants, bees and butterflies to flourish.
Skylark plots were incorporated in the government’s environmental schemes two years ago but take-up has been low. The researchers, who included ADAS, the RSPB and the Crop Protection Association, believe changes to these schemes, based on SAFFIE findings, would prompt more farmers to take part.
James Clarke said: “We don’t want uniform fields or field margins and are not suggesting that all farmers should do the same thing. But we need a diversity of habitat and if we have that, we’ll have a wide variety of thriving wildlife.”
Jonathan Tipples, a farmer and the SAFFIE Project Chairman, said: “We set out to develop measures to encourage wildlife that would be acceptable to commercial farmers. Thanks to the hard work and good science of everyone involved in the project, we now have six practical ways to enhance biodiversity in winter cereals.”
Graham Wynne, RSPB Chief Executive, said: “Measures for wildlife can be used by farmers without harming a farm’s profits. The recommendations SAFFIE is making could make an enormous contribution to helping farmland species recover their numbers and making rural businesses more sustainable. We very much hope the government and Natural England will take these proposals on board.”
Anne Buckenham, Policy Director, Crop Protection Association, said: “This is an outstanding example of Government, scientists, NGOs, levy payers and industry working together successfully to develop solutions for the benefit of biodiversity whilst maintaining crop yields. Farmers can receive £30/ha from environmental schemes. We now need to make sure the opportunities SAFFIE has developed are incorporated in the forthcoming review of environmental stewardship schemes.”
Dr Ann Davies, Defra - Head of Policy for Entry Level Stewardship, said: “This type of research is fundamental to the on-going development of Environmental Stewardship and the SAFFIE recommendations will help us make evidence-based decisions about changes to the Scheme.”
Cath Harris | alfa
Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon
09.12.2016 | Wildlife Conservation Society
Successful calculation of human and natural influence on cloud formation
04.11.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine