The Trust has conducted research on farmland wildlife since the late 1960s and this has included ecological studies of individual species, habitats, systems and long-term changes. Unfortunately, post-war agricultural changes have diminished biodiversity on lowland farms, driven by government policy and European Union subsidy. However, our research has identified ways of reversing this loss of biodiversity without reversing improvements to farming systems.
Our studies include: improving the conditions for biodiversity in cereal crops, exploring tillage methods to reduce diffuse pollution and soil erosion, examining the ability of predatory insects to control outbreaks of pest insects in cereals, developing field margins to improve songbird numbers, (see for instance conservation headland), and even looking at the wildlife potential of novel crops like short-rotation coppice.
An article celebrating work carried out by the Trust in this area has been published on the National Geographic website, under their Nat Geo News Watch blogs. It documents how the Trust’s research has worked to improve farmland biodiversity over the 50 years since the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, which in 1962 alerted the world to the devastating effects of the toxic chemicals in use at that time. Rachel Carson cited the Trust (then The Game Research Association) twice, acknowledging their scientific evidence for the impact on UK wildlife.