The number of farmland birds has plummeted to its lowest-ever recorded level, according to latest figures released by the government.

The availability of food in winter and summer, as well as a lack of nesting habitats has more than halved farmland bird populations from their 1966 levels, the Wild Bird Populations 2007 report claims.

Wildlife minister Huw Irranca-Davies said that while some wild bird species were doing well, the decline of species that breed mainly on farmland was concerning.

“We must continue the work we are doing with conservation bodies, land managers and farmers, and volunteers to help to stop and reverse the decline in wild and farmland bird numbers and take further action,” he added.

Mr Irranca-Davies said DEFRA recommendations to increase areas sown with wild bird seed mixture would help farmland bird populations.

DEFRA secretary Hilary Benn plans to replace set-aside with some form of compulsory environmental stewardship, he added.