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CLA Chairman on why we need to protect farmland birds

PUBLISHED: 12:46 25 November 2014 | UPDATED: 12:46 25 November 2014

Iain Curry

Iain Curry

Archant

Iain Curry, CLA Chairman urges farmers to protect our farmland birds

At this time of year I particularly appreciate the sight and sound of farmland birds. As the temperature drops and their food sources become sparse, I am reassured in the knowledge that the work of land managers across Hampshire will be supporting our feathered friends.

Farmland bird populations began a period of decline across England in the 1970s, with species’ such as the grey partridge, lapwing, skylark, yellow wagtail and corn bunting suffering in particular.

There were a number of reasons for the decline, and there is little doubt that modern agricultural techniques were a contributing factor. Now farmers and land managers are playing a critical role in reversing the trend and boosting farmland bird populations.

There are some great examples of Hampshire landowners who are leading the way. Around three quarters of our farmers have taken up agri-environment schemes, which give support for delivery of environmental land management.

Techniques such as putting parts of the farm into conservation measures during the winter will provide food from specially grown seed-rich plots and unharvested cereal strips.

Farmers also support farmland birds by laying hedgerows and planting new woodland, allowing wild flowers to flourish and creating ‘beetle banks’ across the centre of a field.

This year I have had the fortune of seeing eight pairs of Lapwing, not only breeding but also seeing their offspring fledged. This has never before occurred on my farm and it was due to the favourable conditions, but also the environmental practices that, like many other farmers, we are now carrying out.

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