Complete: Value of sugar beet crop for birds and farm environment

Timescale: 2003 - 3005
Project Lead: A J Morris and I Henderson
Project Sponsor: BBRO and RSPB

Project Summary

This project examined bird use of sugar beet crops in summer and autumn. Foraging and breeding behaviour, along with data on plant food and vegetation composition, were recorded on a total of 15 sites, eight in 2003 and twelve in 2004.

Main Objectives

As many farmland bird species avoid nesting or foraging amongst dense vegetation, the project tested the hypothesis that leaving small (c.4m x 4m) unplanted plots (sometimes known as ‘skylark scrapes’), at a density of two plots per hectare within the crop, would increase access for ground nesting or foraging birds. Leaving plots has been demonstrated to increase skylark productivity in winter wheat, at very low cost to the farmer (Morris et al., 2004). On each of the 15 sites, bird use, plant food and vegetation structure were compared between ‘Plot’ and ‘Control’ (normal-husbandry sugar beet) treatments. Treatments were normally situated on a single large (>10ha) split field.

Latest Report

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Outcomes / Key Message For Growers And Industry

Under review
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BBRO is a not for profit making company.
We are set up jointly by British Sugar plc and the National Farmers' Union.

British Sugar
National Farmers' Union