Birds Eat More Weed Seed in Organic Fields

By Charlie Nardozzi

It's thought that organic farms have lots of bird and wildlife activity because of the lack of harmful chemicals that are sprayed on the fields. Birds, in particular, are welcome because they are keen predators of pest insects on plants. Now researchers in New Zealand are suggesting that birds also help farmers in another way. They seem to eat more weed seeds on organic farms compared to conventional farms.

Researchers at Lincoln University in New Zealand studied weed seed predation at eight conventional and eight organic farms. Dishes filled with two common weed seeds, lamb's quarters and Persian speedwell, were placed at various distances from the edge of the field to the center. They monitored the birds feeding on the dishes for 2 days. There were higher feeding rates of weed seeds on dishes on the edges of organic farms than conventional ones. Overall there was a 17% loss of weed seeds on the organic farms while the conventional farms only had a 10% loss. This suggests that bird populations are more robust around organic farms and more helpful in removing weed seeds.

For more information on this study, go to: Science Direct.

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