It provides an important food source for farmland birds throughout the year and insects in the summer, and provides both grain and seeding arable plants in winter.
If successful there will be:
areas of open crop growth, allowing access for foraging farmland birds
a crop structure supporting a range of declining arable plants and other broad-leaved plants
plants providing summer and winter foraging for declining and localised farmland birds (especially grey partridge), mammals and important farmland pollinator species, such as bees and other beneficial insects
strips or areas of weedy unharvested cereals providing over-wintering habitat for insects and food for seed-eating farmland birds
establish a cereal crop (not maize) between February and April in strips between 6m and 24m wide or on a part-field or field scale
create an open crop structure by managing the crop to deliver between 450 and 700 fertile tillers per square metre
leave the option area unharvested until 1 February in the year following grain head production before returning to normal rotational management
apply any fertilisers or manures
apply any lime
use any herbicides except those on the list of permitted active ingredients available from Natural England
apply any 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 seed invoices
On your annual claim you will be asked to declare that you haven’t carried out any activities prohibited by the option requirements.
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
This option can be successful on most soil types but ideally choose a location with low levels of thistles or problem weeds such as blackgrass. This will help the beneficial arable plants in the soil seedbank to grow without competition and provide a range of valuable habitats during the growing season. It will also allow the arable flora to set seed during the early summer period and retains the insect-rich habitat for foraging farmland birds.
Sowing the crop
It is important to make sure that the crop delivering the unharvested headland is not too dense, which restricts the foraging opportunities for farmland birds such as grey partridge. Managing the seed rate by considering drilling date, seed thousand grain weight, varietal tillering capacity and soil conditions will help achieve the required open crop structure.
The objective for this option is to encourage the natural populations of arable plants that support both insects and farmland birds. Applying broad-spectrum herbicide during the cropping season and non-selective herbicides to help with harvest stops this from happening. There is only a limited list of herbicide actives that are permitted in this option, and these are subject to change as UK pesticide approvals are reviewed, so make sure to consult the most up-to-date list from Natural England.