AB3: Beetle banks

Find out about eligibility and requirements for the beetle banks option.

How much will be paid

£573 per hectare (ha).

Where to use this option

Available for Mid Tier and Higher Tier

Whole or part parcel

Only on:

  • arable land
  • temporary grassland

Where this option cannot be used

  • on historic or archaeological features identified in your HEFER or FER
  • from 1 January 2019, on land already receiving funding for Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs) declared for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS)

How this option will benefit the environment

It provides nesting and foraging habitats for:

  • insects - including those that feed on crop pests
  • bumblebees
  • small mammals
  • some farmland birds

If successful there will be:

  • a raised grass bank with dense tussocky cover providing warm and dry areas for invertebrates and farmland birds
  • invertebrates such as bumblebees and some farmland birds foraging and nesting on the bank during the spring and summer
  • beneficial insects which feed on crop pests


  • create or maintain an earth ridge, measuring between 3m to 5m wide and at least 0.4m high
  • leave gaps no more than 25m wide at each end of the ridge to allow access for machinery
  • establish or maintain a tussocky grass mixture in year 1 of the agreement
  • cut the established mixture to control woody growth and suckering species - cut after 1 August to protect nesting invertebrates

Do not:

  • apply any fertilisers or manures
  • apply any lime
  • use any pesticides, except for herbicides to weed-wipe or spot-treat for the control of injurious weeds, invasive non-natives, nettles or bracken

Keeping records

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

  • field operation records at parcel level, including associated invoices

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

The following options and supplements can be located on the same area as this option:

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 is suitable for most soil types but especially where it is possible to form a free-draining raised bank. This will leave the upper bank area dry for insects to hibernate securely. It works best on larger fields as it is designed to provide the most benefit in more open landscapes. It can also help to slow down or stop soil erosion.

Blocks and plot sizes

Spread beetle banks widely across the farm to help connect farmland wildlife with other farm habitats.

What to sow

Sow a mixture of fine-leaved grasses such as red fescue together with some tussock-forming varieties like tall fescue, timothy and cocksfoot.

Establish the bank

Plough in 2 directions towards each furrow to create the required size, followed by shallow cultivation of the bank to produce a firm, fine seedbed if needed.

Broadcast the grass seed mixture on to the seedbed and roll. This will keep moisture in the soil. Do not overwork the bank, as this can cause a loss in overall height.

When to cut

Cut the grass several times during the first summer to help it establish, but avoid cutting when the bank is wet to stop the soil compacting.

After year 1 only cut:

  • after 1 August to protect any nesting invertebrates and beneficial insects
  • to control parts of the bank where woody species or invasive perennial weeds such as creeping or spear thistle are growing

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 17 May 2018 + show all updates
  1. From 1 January 2019, this option cannot be used on land already receiving funding for Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs) declared for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS).

  2. Updated for 2017 applications.

  3. Information updated for applications in 2016.

  4. First published.