Millet is particularly good for nesting Lapwing and wintering buntings:

  • it is sown in mid-May, later than our other spring crops. This means the stubble of the preceding crop can be left until it is ploughed for millet in early May
  • if a millet crop follows sugar beet, Lapwing can be attracted to the almost bare ground of the sugar beet stubble. In some years we have done this, 25% of the farm’s Lapwing nests have been on beet stubble, which covered less than 3% of the farm
  • when this happens, about half the Lapwing nests hatch before ploughing. This means we have to plough round the later nests which have not hatched
  • ploughing and drilling millet leaves a barren habitat for chicks. So, we locate our millet close to an alternative feeding habitat, like grassland
  • after millet has been harvested, the stubble is strongly favoured by wintering Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting. In our monitoring of wintering birds on arable land in the 2011-12 winter, 80% of the Yellowhammer and all Reed Bunting were found on millet stubble which covered just 5% of the sample area
Arable land millet
Millet stubble, good for wintering buntings, especially Yellowhammer
Beet root stubble before millet
A field that was sugar beet that has been left into May before ploughing for millet. This habitat attracts ground nesting birds like Lapwing