An open-structured cereal crop provides summer foraging sites for declining and localised farmland birds and habitat for brown hare, rare arable plants and pollinator species, such as bees and beneficial insects.
If successful there will be:
areas of open crop growth suitable for crop nesting birds such as skylarks, and a range of declining arable plants and other broadleaved species
brown hare and foraging farmland birds such as yellowhammer and reed bunting using the crop
important farmland pollinator species, such as bumblebees, solitary bees, butterflies and hoverflies, visiting the flowers in these areas
establish a cereal crop every year in the spring between February and April or in the autumn between October and December, either as strips 6m to 24m wide or on a field scale
create an open crop structure by managing the crop to deliver between 450 and 700 fertile tillers per square metre
harvest the crop before 15 July
apply any herbicides, except those on the list of permitted active ingredients available from Natural England
apply insecticides after 15 March
Agreement holders will need to keep the following records and supply them on request:
records at parcel level of field operations, including any associated invoices
Related Mid Tier options and supplements
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
Sites with low levels of pernicious weeds such as couch, blackgrass, brome, ryegrass and wild oats are best, although it may be necessary to use this option on sites with higher weed burdens if important populations of target plants or birds are present.
Managing the crop
Using lower seed rates between 50kg per ha and 100kg per ha will help make sure that the crop is not too dense. It will allow broadleaved plants to establish and provide foraging options for fledged farmland bird chicks.
There are a range of cereals that can be used for this option, including wheat, barley, triticale, oats and rye. Do not use maize, sorghum of any kind or millet as the cereal in this option – the herbicide and fertiliser management and dense ground-covering traits are not suitable to deliver the outcomes of this option.