AB2: Basic overwinter stubble

Find out about eligibility and requirements for the basic overwinter stubble option.

How much will be paid

£84 per hectare (ha).

Where to use this option

Available for Mid Tier and Higher Tier

Whole or part parcel


Only on stubble that follows the harvest of:

  • cereals (not maize)
  • oilseed rape
  • linseed

Where this option cannot be used

  • parcels at risk of soil erosion or runoff, as identified on the Farm Environment Record (FER)
  • organic land or land in conversion to organic status

How this option will benefit the environment

It provides a winter food source for seed-eating birds, which feed on spilt grain and the seeds of broad-leaved weeds. It also provides a foraging habitat for brown hare.

If successful there will be:

  • naturally occurring arable plants providing seed and forage over the winter
  • farmland birds and brown hare foraging on the seed shed during harvest


After the first harvest, keep the stubble from harvest to 15 February each year.

Do not:

  • apply pre-harvest desiccants
  • apply post-harvest herbicides
  • apply any fertilisers, manures or lime to the stubble

Keeping records

Agreement holders will need to keep the following records and supply them on request:

  • field operation records at the parcel level, including associated invoices
  • location of option submitted with your annual claim

On your annual claim you will be asked to declare that you haven’t carried out any activities prohibited by the option requirements.

You should also be aware that at the start of each claim year, a percentage of agreement holders will be asked to take and submit the following photographic records:

  • photographs of the stubble area

Advice and suggestions for how to carry out this option

The following section gives advice on carrying out this option successfully but does not form part of the requirements for this option.

Pick the right location

This option suits most soil types but works best when arable plants in the soil seedbank create a range of natural habitats that can support different wildlife.

The best overwinter stubbles come from spring sown crops, especially barley.

Blocks or plot sizes

Spread basic stubbles widely across the farm to help connect farmland wildlife with other farm habitats.

This option delivers most of its benefits at a larger scale, which provides the best opportunities for foraging and feeding. Very small areas of stubble at the edge of fields (or in areas of poor soil condition) are not suitable.

This option is designed to rotate around the farm so it:

  • fits in with the crop rotations
  • gives the most benefit for biodiversity

Enhance basic stubble

Enhance the stubble by broadcasting beneficial seed and nectar-producing plants, such as mustard and fodder radish. Do this after harvest on a maximum of 10% of the stubble area.

Use the stubble as areas for supplementary feeding when they are next to winter bird food plots.

Rotational management

Remember that stubbles should be in place from harvest until at least 31 December in year 5 of the agreement, after which time it can be returned to the rotation.

Further information

See the Mid Tier manual or Higher Tier manual to find out more about the scheme and how to apply.

Published 2 April 2015
Last updated 10 March 2017 + show all updates
  1. Updated for 2017 applications.
  2. Information updated for applications in 2016.
  3. First published.