Damage to winter cereals by greylag and pink-footed geese in north-east Scotland.
Autumn-sown barley in NE Scotland grazed by pink-footed geese (Anser brachyrhynchus) and greylag geese (A. anser) was reduced in height and retarded in growth for most of the growing season. Grain and straw yields were lower in grazed than in ungrazed areas of several, but not all, wheat and barley fields. Yields were lower in fields with high intensities of goose grazing, but grazing in at least half of the fields studied was below that required to cause yield loss. The amount of weed was higher in grazed than in ungrazed areas in 3 fields of each crop and increased with intensity of grazing. The median distance between goose roosting and feeding sites was 2-5 km and most geese fed within 10 km of their roost. Within the feeding area, most geese fed on stubble fields in the 1st half of the winter and the great majority on grass later. Only a small proportion of the population fed on autumn-sown cereal fields, which were visited most in Mar. and Apr. Fewer than half of the cereal fields in the centre of the study area were visited by geese, although wheat was used more than barley. The spacing of goose roosts in E. Scotland and the av. feeding range and limited grazing on winter cereal suggested that goose damage in NE Scotland is, at present, a local rather than a national problem. It might best be counteracted by dispersing the geese by scaring them to prevent grazing on particular fields being great enough to result in yield loss.