Non-inversion tillage and farmland birds: a review with special reference to the UK and Europe


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This paper reviews the current knowledge of the effects of non-inversion tillage (NIT) on farmland birds and their food resources. NIT is a method of establishing a crop without using a mouldboard plough and is becoming increasingly popular in the UK. NIT generally disturbs the soil to shallower depths than conventional tillage and is therefore expected to have beneficial effects on biodiversity on arable land as compared with mouldboard ploughing. The diets of farmland birds change throughout the year, and many species take invertebrates over the breeding season. Seeds are also important for many species of farmland birds throughout the year and especially over the winter months. The effects of NIT on these farmland bird food resources, in particular ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae), spiders (Arachnida: Araneae), earthworms (Annelida) and seeds (arable weeds and cereal crops) are reviewed.