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- IMPACTS OF FARMING PRACTICES ON BIRD FOOD RESOURCES
- ENHANCING THE POTENTIAL VALUE OF GRASSLANDS FOR BIRDS
- THE IMPORTANCE OF LANDSCAPE SCALE
The ideal grassland to encourage plants and invertebrates suitable as food for farmland birds contains a mixture of grasses and broad-leaved plants with a range of vegetation heights and structures. However, as a result of agricultural intensification the majority of lowland grasslands in the UK now lack botanical and structural complexity. Plants within intensively managed swards are allowed little capacity to set seed, and the majority of invertebrates within these grasslands are either too small to be utilized by birds or inaccessible because of dense vegetation or impenetrable soils. Further research is required into the impact of different grassland management practices on the abundance and accessibility of bird food resources at both the field and the landscape level. The major challenge will be to identify changes to grassland management practices that provide significant biodiversity benefits and yet allow productive livestock farming systems to continue.