How much will be paid
£569 hectare (ha).
Where to use this option
It’s available for Countryside Stewardship Mid Tier and Higher Tier on whole or part parcels in rotation, but only on:
- arable land
- temporary grassland
Where this option cannot be used
- On organic parcels or land in conversion
How this option will benefit the environment
It provides food for farmland wildlife, such as pollen and nectar for pollinators including bumblebees, solitary bees, butterflies and hoverflies. As well as invertebrate chick food for farmland birds around the sown fallow between April and July. It can also be a useful part of a rotation aimed at reducing blackgrass populations.
If you’re selected for a site visit, we will check that delivery of the aims is being met and the prohibited activities have not been carried out. This will ensure the environmental benefits are being delivered.
In the summer/autumn/spring, a seed mix of 6 flowering species will be establishing, in years 1 and re-established in year 3.
To prevent blackgrass heading, the mix will be cut at least twice during the first 12 months after sowing (between 1 March and 31 October)
The sown mix will be present until the end of the second summer after sowing (years 3 and 5).
To achieve the aims and deliver the environmental benefits, do not carry out any of the following activities.
On your annual claim you will be asked to declare that you have not carried out any prohibited activities.
To assist you in achieving the aims and deliver the environmental benefits for this option, we recommend that you use best practice.
We recommend that you:
You can find advice on what to sow in the Additional guidance and advice section.
Where there is uncertainty about whether the aims of the options have been delivered, we will take into account any records or evidence you may have kept demonstrating delivery of the aims of the option. This will include any steps you’ve taken to follow the recommended management set out above. It’s your responsibility to keep such records if you want to rely on these to support your claim.
- Records of field operations at the parcel level, including any associated invoices
- Photographs of the option
Additional guidance and advice
The following advice is helpful but they are not requirements for this item.
Pick the right location
It works best where some blackgrass germinates after cultivation in the autumn and more can grow from the seedbank during the winter and following spring. Mow the area as often as is needed to prevent the blackgrass from seeding.
Size of blocks or plots
Plan this option into the rotation, selecting fields on a part or whole-field scale. This will give most benefits for blackgrass reduction and biodiversity.
Spread the legume fallow areas widely across the farm to help connect insects with other farm habitats.
What to sow
In the autumn, sow a mixture (based on the suggestions below) and retain for 2 years before re-establishing.
||% inclusion rate
Sow the seed mix at 15 to20 kilograms (kg) per hectare with the lower seed rate appropriate on light/medium soils and the higher seed rate appropriate on heavier soils.
You can also include grasses such as cocksfoot, perennial ryegrass or timothy in seed mix to help smother blackgrass and other competitive grass weeds.
When to sow
Establish the legume fallow as soon as possible after harvest in year 1 and year 3 of the agreement (ideally by the end of August).
When to cut
Cut at least twice in the first year following the autumn sowing to control emerging blackgrass. But be prepared for subsequent cuts to be as close as 3 weeks apart as blackgrass re-heads more rapidly after each cut.
Cutting before the end of March in year 2 controls any remaining blackgrass, before the legume fallow mixture grows away rapidly from April.
The aim of this option is to provide an abundant supply of pollen and nectar-rich flowers, and this cannot be achieved if the option area is grazed, or if fertilisers and sprays are used.
Return the option area to crop production
Spray the legume fallow mix with a non-selective herbicide if needed, before the area is cultivated for the next crop.
Return the area to the farm rotation from 15 August.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
This option can form part of an IPM approach to prevent the establishment of pests, weeds and diseases. If successful, appropriate and within proximity of cropped areas, these may limit the need for the use of Plant Protection Products and enhance wildlife and biodiversity on your holding. Read information on IPM at AHDB (Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board) Integrated Pest Management and LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming).
Read more information about Countryside Stewardship Mid Tier and Higher Tier to find out more about the scheme and how to apply.