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Techniques to help wildlife

Advice on ways to help wildlife on farmland, from management of unwanted plants to safe use of rodenticides. Downloadable advice sheets are also available where these relate to agri-environment schemes in your country.

Managing gorse

Gorse is very important for birds and for invertebrates. Find out how to manage it successfully.

Gorse bushes and wild flower covered rocks on Ballymacormick Point

Arable crops on livestock farms

One of the major agricultural changes that has affected farmland birds in Britain has been the loss of mixed farming. Livestock farming predominates in north and west Britain and there has been a decline in arable crops.

Mixed farmland

Arable reversion

Arable land can be reverted to grassland to increase the variety of habitat in predominantly arable areas. It may help to buffer or link up areas of important grassland, to protect and extend existing habitats, to strengthen farm landscapes or to protect underlying archaeological features.

Hay meadow grasses

Bracken management in the uplands

Bracken is a well-adapted pioneer plant, which can dominate large areas of moorland. Established stands occupy an estimated 975,000 hectares of open upland and heathland in the UK

Bracken: young growth in a clearing

Farmland bird feeding stations

A feeding station is an area of the farm where you can put down waste grain and seed to provide food for seed-eating birds, especially through the winter, when their food can be in short supply.

Tree sparrow feeding on seed

Moorland gripping

Moorland gripping is the practice of digging ditches to drain wet areas of heath and blanket bog. Gripping was a practice particularly widespread in the northern uplands in the 1960s to the mid 1980s, often encouraged by grant aid.

Round-leaved sundew, Drosera rotundifolia

Re-wetting grassland

Several wetland birds of conservation concern, notably wading birds, breed on farmland.

Lowland grassland, wet, showing wintering Greenland white-fronted geese

Rush management

Damp grassland on farmland is a very important breeding habitat for lapwings, curlews, redshanks, snipe and reed buntings.

Fannyside RSPB reserve, near Cumbernauld

Rodenticide use

Rats need to be controlled in many situations, but rodenticides are also toxic to other wildlife, domestic livestock and pets. The best policy is to prevent rat populations building up in the first place, consider alternative methods of control, use first generation rodenticides where there is no resistance, and finally, if second generation rodenticide use is required, follow instructions carefully to ensure they are used safely.

Barn owl carrying rodent