Agronomy Research Expertise in Montpellier and Languedoc-Roussillon (South of France)

Agronomy : crops and cropping systems

Keywords :

Impact of apple orchard cropping systems on wild birds

2. Minimizing the impact of cropping on biogeochemical cycles

2. Minimizing the impact of cropping on biogeochemical cycles

Tree sparrows were highly sensitive to chemical pesticides and thus only found in orchards managed by organic farming strategies Conventional crop protection strategies that rely on chemical pesticides to control pests in apple orchards have prompted the development of pesticide resistance in codling moths (apple worms), leading to an increase in the frequency of non environment-friendly pesticide treatments. Crop protection strategies differ markedly due to the adoption of alternative methods for controlling this insect and conversions to organic farming. The impact of these strategies on wild birds was assessed in apple orchards located in a similar local landscape environment in the Avignon region (France) and managed either under conventional crop protection, or integrated crop protection (codling moth mating disruption complemented by chemical pesticide treatments) or organic farming (OF) conditions. The results showed that overall the avifauna differed significantly in orchards managed with the three protection strategies (OF, integrated and conventional), with abundances of 46, 30 and 8 individual birds/ha and a species diversity of 18, 14 and 8 nesting species/ha, respectively. The functional structure of bird communities was also modified since a sharp decrease in insectivorous birds was noted in conventional orchards. Breeding of three insectivorous passerines that were monitored in nesting boxes was also highly affected. Blue tits and tree sparrows only nested in OF orchards. Great tits bred in all orchards but the number of young birds/ha decreased significantly from 17 in OF to 11 in integrated and to 9 in conventional orchards. This study revealed the high impact of crop protection strategies on all bird community descriptive parameters and the breeding success of insectivorous bird species. It also highlighted the potential impact of fruit cropping on wild bird biodiversity and consequences in terms of preserving bird species of agricultural and/or heritage value.

Jean-Charles Bouvier ,

Publication date: 30/05/2010




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