Plant and invertebrate resources for farmland birds in pastoral landscapes
Westbury, D. B., Mortimer, S. R., Brook, A. J., Harris, S. J., Kessock-Philip, R., Edwards, A. R., Chaney, K., Lewis, P., Dodd, S., Buckingham, D. L. and Peach, W. J. (2011) Plant and invertebrate resources for farmland birds in pastoral landscapes. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 142 (3-4). pp. 266-274. ISSN 0167-8809
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.agee.2011.05.018
On 16 UK livestock holdings within pastoral landscapes, we investigated the provision of plant and invertebrate resources for farmland birds in spring barley and winter wheat cereal-based whole crop silages as alternatives to maize and grass silages. The benefits of low input barley systems were also investigated; barley fields were subjected to two separate herbicide sub-treatments on a split-field design (high input broad-spectrum or low input narrow spectrum herbicides). The abundance of plant resources and invertebrates was assessed for three growing seasons during summer and winter for each crop type. The study clearly demonstrated the value of spring barley for the provision of plant resources when compared to the other silage cropping systems, whilst invertebrate responses were variable. No differences in plant and invertebrate resources were found between the barley treatments. Throughout the year, forage maize afforded the lowest provision of resources for farmland birds, and because it is likely that maize will continue to be grown in pastoral areas, the value of this habitat needs to be improved if farmland birds are to benefit. To provide plant and invertebrate resources for farmland birds in pastoral landscapes we strongly advocate the growing of spring sown barley whole-crop silage followed by over-wintering stubbles. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.