Advice and suggestions for how to carry out this option
The following advice is helpful, but they are not requirements for this item.
Pick the right location
This option works well on most soil types and, as with conventional crops, there will be more seeds and flowers produced where you locate it on better ground. Ideally, pick sheltered sites that face south or west for maximum benefits to pollinators.
It also works on heavier soils where spring-sowing of winter bird food plots is difficult.
Avoid sites with high weed burdens to reduce competition from aggressive weeds such as thistles, blackgrass and sterile brome.
Size of blocks or plots
Sow larger plots as they are easier to manage and provide food for seed-eating farmland birds longer into the winter. Creating wider, bigger blocks also helps insects to move to safety when neighbouring crops are treated.
What to sow
Sow a mixture in the autumn based on the suggestions below, at an overall seed rate of around 50kg per ha and keep for 2 years before re-establishment.
Gold of pleasure
When to sow
Establish the mixture as soon as possible after harvest in year 1 and year 3 of the agreement (ideally by 1 September).
Plots can receive 50kg per ha of nitrogen in the first spring after establishment to help increase seed production in the following winter.
When to cut
Cut a few centimetres below the tops of the flowering plants in the spring of the second year to remove any overwinter seed plants. This allows flowering plants to develop with less competition.
The aim of this option is to provide an abundant supply of small seeds and an abundant supply of pollen and nectar-rich flowers, and this cannot be achieved if the option area is grazed.
Return the area to crop rotation
The option area returns to the farm rotation on 15 August, which allows time to incorporate any legume biomass for healthier soils before drilling the next crop.
If a following spring crop is planned, the legume mix can be left in the ground until Jan/Feb/Mar of the crop sowing year to maximise the nutrient and soil conditioning benefits of the sown bumblebird plants.