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Farming for Wildlife Project: Annual Report 2007/8

Pywell, Richard; Nowakowski, Marek. 2008 Farming for Wildlife Project: Annual Report 2007/8. NERC/Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, 19pp. (CEH Project Number: C03242)

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Abstract/Summary

1. Executive summary 1) Post-war agricultural intensification has resulted in the loss of habitats and species from the countryside. Conservation Grade is an industry-led assured produce scheme which aims to reverse these declines through the creation of carefully targeted wildlife habitat on land removed from agricultural production. 2) The aim of this project was to scientifically evaluate a range of core Conservation Grade habitats for enhancing wildlife and determine their optimum location in a typical farming situation. 3) In autumn 2006 an experiment was established on four arable fields of 5-6 ha each growing Conservation Grade oats on the Upton Estate, Warwickshire. 4) One of four habitat types (crop, natural regeneration, wild bird seed mix and wildflower seed mix) was established in the corner of each field using a latin-square design with four replicates. Identical habitats were established on the north- and south-facing field margins separating each corner using the same design. 5) The effect of habitat type and location was recorded on plants, flower resources, pollinating insects, other insects and birds using standard methodologies. 6) There were a large number of differences in the value of difference Conservation Grade habitats for wildlife over the 2 years. 7) Few species were found in the intensively managed cereal crop. 8) Allowing vegetation to regenerate naturally resulted in tall, competitive vegetation dominated by undesirable grass weeds and thistles. However, these were attractive to bumblebees. 9) The most effective treatments (wildflower and wild bird seed mix) were those specifically targeted to the requirements of declining wildlife groups. 10) Sowing an annual mix of seed-bearing crops was a very effective means of providing food resources for farmland birds during the winter. 11) Sowing a mixture of perennial wildflowers proved to be a reliable and rapid means of creating a diverse and weed-free vegetation community which was most attractive to bees, butterflies and other invertebrates. 12) Habitat location (margin or corner) had relatively few effects on abundance and diversity of wildlife after 2 years. However, habitat location may become more important as vegetation communities become established and colonised by species with more exacting habitat requirements.

Item Type: Publication - Report (UNSPECIFIED)
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Biodiversity > SE01A Sustainable Monitoring and Management of Land Resources
CEH Sections: Pywell
Funders/Sponsors: Jordans Cereals Ltd
NORA Subject Terms: Agriculture and Soil Science
Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 17 Mar 2009 16:16
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/6366

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