AB4: Skylark plots

Find out about eligibility and requirements for the skylark plots option.

How much will be paid

£18 (£9 per plot, minimum 2 plots per hectare (ha)).

Where to use this option

Available for Mid Tier and Higher Tier



  • on arable land
  • on temporary grassland
  • in winter cereal fields with an open aspect of more than 5ha

Where this option cannot be used

  • in parcels bounded by tree lines or adjacent to woods, unless the parcel is larger than 10ha
  • 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 skylarks with suitable access to nesting habitats in winter cereal crops throughout their breeding season.

If successful there will be:

  • plots providing access into the growing cereal during the spring and summer
  • skylarks holding territory and singing over the fields of winter cereals where the plots are located and, ideally, landing in the plots themselves
  • increased numbers of singing skylarks across the farm


  • create fallow plots at least 3m wide and with a minimum area of 16 square metres in winter cereal fields
  • space plots across the field at a minimum density of 2 plots per ha, making sure they are located away from tramlines, boundaries and margins to minimise nest predation

Keeping records

You should 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 plots

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 works best in large, open winter cereal fields, preferably where skylarks are present or have been in the past. Avoid fields that are bordered by trees or next to woods as this increases the risks of predator attack.

Minimise attacks on nests from predators by placing plots:

  • away from tramlines (choosing a middle spot between two sets of tramlines works best)
  • at least 50m from field boundaries and margins

How to establish skylark plots

Create plots either:

  • by turning off the drill during sowing to leave an unsown plot, or
  • by sowing the crop as normal and spraying with herbicide to create the plot by 31 December

Managing the plots

After drilling, the plots can be managed with the same treatments as the remainder of the field.

There is no need to keep the plots weed-free but spot-treating with herbicide in April will help skylarks to access their nesting sites.

Mechanical weeding of crops containing skylark plots will destroy any nests present and is not recommended.

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. Information updated for applications in 2016.

  3. First published.