Wednesday, July 01, 2009


An interesting slant on set-aside published in FWi (Farmers Weekly interactive) last week.

A wheat breeder and a seed merchant, who acknowledge that the decline in farmland birds is linked with the modern productive farming needed for food security, state that set-aside figures for helping birds through the hunger-gap of Feb-March need re-evaluating.

They stress that the widely reported DEFRA figure of a 13% fall in the population of 19 species of farmland birds from 1994-2007 masks big variations that have barely been mentioned or discussed, in particular yellowhammers and linnets that have diminished greater than any other species.

“Considering that their steep decline was associated with compulsory set-aside over the whole 1994-2007 period, there's no evidence that set-aside was of any significant benefit to them"

They advocate more thorough co-ordination of existing experimental evidence to produce a management manual which addresses what set-aside apparently does not – to provide a mix of seed-size bearing crops through-out the whole winter period, including the hunger-gap, that will help ALL species including yellowhammer and linnet. To undertake this is one challenge but to do it in a manner that does not give rise to massive bird-food farms is another.


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