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).

Where to use this option

It is available for Mid Tier and Higher Tier on whole or part parcels in rotation on:

  • arable land
  • temporary grass
  • bush orchards

Where this option cannot be used

  • On organic land or on land in conversion to organic status
  • 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 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

Requirements

You must establish in blocks or strips between 1 March and 15 September by sowing a grass-free seed mix which contains a minimum of 6 flower species. At least 2 of these must be from the following list. But no single species should exceed 50% of the total seed mix by weight:

  • common knapweed
  • musk mallow
  • oxeye daisy
  • wild carrot
  • yarrow

In the first 12 months after sowing you are allowed to regularly cut to help the sown species to establish.

You can find more details on what to sow in the Advice and suggestions for how to carry out this option section.

You must then manage established nectar flower mix plots as follows:

  • rotationally cut half (50%) of the plot area each year between 15 May and 15 June – do not cut the same area in successive years
  • cut the whole plot (100%) each year between 15 September and 30 March

Always remove or shred cuttings to prevent weed ingress and patches of dead material developing.

Do not:

  • graze between 15 March and 31 August

Keeping records

You must 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
  • photographs of the established mixture

We may ask to see these at any point during your agreement, this could be as part of an administrative check or during an inspection.

On your annual claim you must declare that you have not carried out any activities prohibited by the option requirements.

Advice and suggestions for how to carry out this option

The following advice is helpful, but they are not requirements for this item.

Pick the right 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 you are spraying fields.

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

What to sow

A seed mix which contains both shorter-lived legumes and longer-lived wild flower species delivers an extended supply of pollen and nectar from late spring through to the autumn for beneficial insects such as bees, butterflies, hoverflies and moths.

You can sow the following example mix on a range of soil types:

Flower species % inclusion rate
Alsike clover 10
Bird’s-foot trefoil 10
Black medick 5
Common vetch 40
Early flowering red clover 10
Late flowering red clover 10
Lucerne 5
Sweet clover 5
Common knapweed 1.5
Musk mallow 1
Oxeye daisy 1
Wild carrot 1
Yarrow 0.5
Total 100

Sow the seed mix at 15 kg/ha.

On light free draining soils you can replace common vetch with sainfoin.

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.

Management

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 can establish successfully.

You can graze livestock on plots between 1 September and 14 March, but make sure that they do not cause any poaching or soil compaction. Avoid supplementary feeding as this can result in poaching and soil compaction.

Remember you must keep nectar plots until at least 31 December in year 5 of the agreement.

Further information

You can find more information in the Growing farm wildlife video which gives a step-by-step approach to sowing nectar flower mixtures.

Growing farm wildlife

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

Published 2 April 2015
Last updated 18 August 2020 + show all updates
  1. Re-linked Growing farm wildlife video

  2. The Requirements and the Advice and suggestions for how to carry out this option sections were updated yesterday.

  3. This page has been updated.

  4. The Requirements and Keeping records sections of this page have been updated.

  5. 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).

  6. Updated for 2017 applications.

  7. Information updated for applications in 2016.

  8. First published.