Birds under threat
GOVERNMENT-backed scientists want farmers to drill pesticide treated seed deeper and manage any spills better in a bid to reduce bird deaths.
By increasing the drilling depth from 25mm to 40mm, avoiding broadcasting of seed and managing spills appropriately, farmers can reduce the amount of dressed seed available to birds and in turn reduce mortality risks, explains Andy Hart, head of wildlife ecotoxicology at CSL York.
Work carried out by CSL since the early 1990s looked at risk to birds from treated seed.
As a consequence of the study, PSD issued guidance regarding the labelling of treated cereal seed. This guidance highlights the need for farmers to avoid broadcasting seed and to drill cereal seed deeper into a well prepared and firm seed-bed. It also emphasises the need to clear up any spillages and, where cereal seed remains on the surface, harrow then roll to incorporate dressed seed.
"In a study carried out over two winters, more than a hundred pigeons were radio tracked to identify mortality and determine cause of death," says Dr Hart.
Simple aversion to treated seed cannot be relied upon alone. *
Growers need to drill seed deeper and get better at clearing up spills if unnecessary bird deaths are to be reduced, say CSL scientists.