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 Dune ecosystem modelling
23.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Understanding animal social networks can aid wildlife conservation
23.06.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

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: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>