AB6: Enhanced overwinter stubble

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

How much will be paid

£436 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

  • on parcels at risk of soil erosion or runoff, as identified on the Farm Environment Record (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 important winter food sources for seed-eating birds, spring and summer foraging and nesting habitat for other farmland birds and undisturbed habitat for other farmland wildlife including many pollinators.

If successful there will be:

  • naturally occurring arable plants providing seed and forage during winter, spring and summer
  • farmland birds and pollinating insects using the winter stubble and spring fallow area
  • only low populations of blackgrass plants in the late spring that need targeted spraying


  • retain the stubble and any subsequent regeneration until 31 July of the following year after harvest
  • return the stubble to the farm rotation from 1 August each year

Do not:

  • use pre-harvest desiccants
  • apply fertilisers or manures to the stubble
  • apply lime to the stubble
  • apply pesticides to the stubble, except herbicides to control problem grass weeds by spraying the affected area from 15 May
  • top or graze

Keeping records

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

  • field operations at the parcel level, including associated invoices
  • location of option within 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.

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 can be used on most soil types but ideally choose a location with:

  • low levels of blackgrass or without a thistle problem as this avoids the need to spray after 15 May and lets arable flora set seed in late spring to early summer
  • arable plants in the soil seedbank, which provide natural insect-rich habitats for foraging farmland birds

Block sizes or plots

Spread enhanced stubble widely across the farm to help connect farmland wildlife with other farm habitats, and to provide some benefits for blackgrass control later in the season.

Make sure this option is planned into the farm rotation by selecting enough appropriately sized fields with a low blackgrass burden.

Rotational management

Remember that the stubble 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 8 March 2019 + show all updates
  1. Updated keeping records section for evidence required with claim.

  2. 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).

  3. Updated for 2017 applications.

  4. Information updated for applications in 2016.

  5. First published.