Ecoplan backfires

Published: Saturday 15 December 2001

The 'green farming' project of the Netherlands aimed at benefiting wildlife, is failing to achieve its purpose. To encourage birds to nest, Dutch farmers are paid to delay the spring mowing of their grass fields every year. But David Kleijn of Wageningen Agricultural University, the Netherlands, says that birds are not responding well to this. Kleijn found that most of the common birds nested less often on the ecofields. He believes that the plan backfired because late mowing meant farmers were applying less nitrogen fertiliser, which affected the earthworm population. "Birds avoided ecofields because the soils contained fewer earthworms," he says (New Scientist , October 20, 2001, Vol 172, No 2313).

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