Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Hope at hand for farmland birds

20.07.2007
Farmland bird numbers could increase four-fold if a set of new measures is included in green farming schemes, researchers say.

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
Further information:
http://www.rspb.org.uk

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Preservation of floodplains is flood protection
27.09.2017 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Salmonella as a tumour medication

HZI researchers developed a bacterial strain that can be used in cancer therapy

Salmonellae are dangerous pathogens that enter the body via contaminated food and can cause severe infections. But these bacteria are also known to target...

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

3rd Symposium on Driving Simulation

23.10.2017 | Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microfluidics probe 'cholesterol' of the oil industry

23.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Gamma rays will reach beyond the limits of light

23.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

The end of pneumonia? New vaccine offers hope

23.10.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>