AB1: Nectar flower mix

Find out about eligibility and requirements for the nectar flower mix option.

How much will be paid

£511 per hectare (ha).

If used as Ecological Focus Area (EFA): £107 per ha

Where to use this option

Available for Mid Tier and Higher Tier

Whole or part parcel


Only on:

  • arable land
  • temporary grass
  • bush orchards

Where this option cannot be used

  • where evidence or records exist for important arable plants (Plantlife IAPA classification 4 and above – see Appendix II, page 19). These records can either be historic (within the last 40 years) or from recent arable plant survey results
  • on organic land or on land in conversion to organic status

How this option will benefit the environment

It provides areas of flowering plants to boost essential food sources for beneficial pollinators.

If successful there will be:

  • an abundant supply of pollen and nectar-rich flowers between early and late summer
  • pollinating insects such as bumblebees, solitary bees, butterflies and hoverflies using the flowers


  • establish a mix of at least 4 nectar-rich plants and at least 2 perennials from the list in the “What to sow” section
  • establish the mix in blocks or strips between 15 March and 30 April or 15 July and 30 August
  • rotationally cut 50% of the plot area each year between 15 April and 31 May – do not cut the same area in successive years
  • cut the whole area between 15 September and 30 March, removing or shredding cuttings to avoid patches of dead material developing

Do not:

  • graze between 15 March and 31 August

Keeping records

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

  • seed invoices
  • field operations at the parcel level, including associated invoices
  • stock records to show grazing activity on parcels

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 established mixture

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

The Plantlife Important Arable Plant Areas (IAPA) handbook referenced above scores individual species; if there are records of plants which score 4 or above this option cannot be used on that location.

Use lower-yielding areas with a sunny aspect, facing south or south-southwest.

Avoid planting under overhanging trees, next to tall hedges or on land facing north or east. Leave access to surrounding crops to allow for management.

Block and plot sizes

Use wide margins and big blocks between 0.25ha and 0.5ha. This lets insects move to safety when fields are being sprayed.

Spacing five 0.5ha patches evenly within 100ha meets the food needs of many pollinators.

What to sow

The seed mix used should contain both short-term nectar rich and perennial wildflower plants, such as:

  • early and late flowering red clovers
  • alsike clover
  • sainfoin
  • birdsfoot trefoil
  • black knapweed
  • musk mallow

Sow at 12kg per ha to provide enough plants.

Avoid short-term mixes that do not include knapweed or mallow as they will not supply pollinators with long-term food sources for years 4 and 5 of the agreement.

How to sow

Sow by broadcasting seeds rather than drilling, when the soil is warm and moist. Use a ring roll before and after sowing. Check regularly for slug damage.


Cut emerging flowers and weeds at least twice in year 1, and up to 4 times if necessary where the soil is particularly fertile. Regular cutting prevents weeds smothering the slow-growing flowers so all sown species are established successfully.

Plots may be grazed between 1 September and 14 March, but (as set out in the Mid Tier Manual section 6.2.1 General management requirements) make sure that no poaching or soil compaction by livestock takes place. Supplementary feeding could result in poaching and soil compaction, so should be avoided.

Remember that nectar plots should be kept until at least 31 December in year 5 of the agreement.

Further information

Order the ‘Growing farm wildlife’ DVD from Natural England which gives a step-by-step approach to sowing nectar flower mixtures.

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