The results of scientific research have played a central role in convincing decision-makers of the plight of farmland birds and in the development of land management measures and policies designed to reverse the population declines. Several types of study have contributed to what is now a considerable knowledge base on the ecological requirements of key species, the reasons for their declines and the remedial measures necessary to bring about population recovery. They include: monitoring; analyses of large-scale datasets; detailed studies of particular species, land-uses or land management practices; and the development and testing of solutions. As a consequence, there is now an excellent qualitative understanding of farmland bird ecology, which is well reflected in the suite of land management schemes and other policy initiatives that currently operate in England. Future research efforts should focus on the further development and testing of solutions and gaining a better understanding of the quantitative relationship between the provision of resources (especially nesting and foraging habitats) and the population response of target bird species. Such work should ensure that land management measures are deployed at the required scale, in appropriate locations and are of sufficient quality to influence the national populations of the declining species.