Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Farmland Bird Numbers up 119% (according to the RSPB)

The catch? Only on their demonstration arable farm in Cambridgeshire – but – serving to demonstrate that crop yields and biodiversity improvements can coexist.

The original aim of their farm was to try to show how winter combinable crop production and farmland bird populations could both benefit from the right management. The farm is a commercial concern so, for this reason, winter cropping dominates. A four-year rotation of winter wheat, oilseed rape, winter wheat and spring beans is in place. The fact that this allows them to keep over-wintered stubbles in place is a bonus.

Bird populations have flourished since 2001, despite a slight dip last year. Species such as skylarks, linnets, yellowhammers and reed buntings have all doubled in numbers, while grey partridges, lapwings and yellow wagtails have returned - probably due to having some spring cropping."

Not surprisingly, some of the land is used for RSPB trials. One of the projects is finding ways of meeting the hunger gap - the period of time between February and late April - when food for birds is very scarce on arable farms. We haven't found the solution yet."


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