Does no-till soybean farming provide any benefits for birds?

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Nesting success and avian communities were compared between tilled and no-till soybean fields in Illinois. No-till had greater densities of birds than tilled fields, and the overall community in no-till was of greater conservation value due to more grassland birds using no-till compared with tilled fields. Nesting density was greater in no-till (4.5 nests/100. ha) than in tilled (1.6) fields. The most common nesting species were American robins, vesper sparrows, and mourning doves. Nest success, as estimated from daily survival rates, was 19.4% in no-till and 9.4% in tilled fields. Predation was the main cause of nest failure, but 24.4% of failures were caused by farm machinery. The authors propose that the previous year's crop residue and greater abundance of weedy plants in no-till resulted in increased nesting and foraging activity in no-till and greater nest success because of increased opportunity to conceal nests in no-till compared to tilled fields. No-till provides greater benefits to birds than tilled fields, and the large amount of acreage in row crops dictates that we understand the contribution of no-till fields to grassland bird populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-64
Number of pages6
JournalAgriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
StatePublished - Mar 1 2014


  • Agroecology
  • Avian communities
  • Birds
  • Nesting ecology
  • Soybeans
  • Tillage practices

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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