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Cover crops provide good bird habitat

Cara J

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It’s not only farmers who benefit from using cover crops. A new study finds birds might benefit as well. As a graduate student at the University of Illinois, Cassandra Wilcoxen noticed that more farmers in Illinois were planting cover crops — plants that help manage soil erosion and nutrients after the harvest for cash crops is over. She knew cover crops could have other benefits for the environment, including reducing nutrients in waterways, but she hadn’t seen much research on their effects on wildlife. As part of her graduate project, Wilcoxen compared corn and soybean fields with and without cover crops to determine which ones best provided habitat for migratory and resident bird species and whether birds of conservation concern used the habitat. After cold-calling farmers to get permission to monitor their fields, Wilcoxen compared corn and soybean fields with and without cover crops by walking through the fields, recording which birds were present and the number of individuals. “It’s cold out in early March, but it’s beautiful and when it warms up it is really neat to see what birds end up in these fields,” said Wilcoxen, lead author on the study published in Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment. She [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/cover-crops-provide-good-bird-habitat/

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