AB7: Whole crop cereals
Find out about eligibility and requirements for the whole crop cereals option.
How much will be paid
£495 per hectare (ha).
Where to use this option
Available for Mid Tier and Higher Tier
Whole or part parcel
- arable land
- temporary grassland
Where this option cannot be used
- On parcels at risk of soil erosion or runoff, as identified on the Farm Environment Record (FER)
How this option will benefit the environment
It provides a valuable seed source in grass-dominated areas, from any unripe spilt grain after harvest and from the stubble in winter. It also delivers resource protection benefits when compared to maize.
If successful there will be:
- areas of open crop growth
- a crop structure supporting a range of declining arable plants and other broad-leaved species
- plants providing summer foraging for declining and localised farmland birds, small mammals and pollinator species such as bees and other beneficial insects
- a weedy stubble providing over-wintering habitat for insects and seed-eating farmland birds
- establish a cereal crop (not maize) between February and April every year
- harvest as whole crop cereals
- retain the stubble from harvest until 15 February
- apply any herbicides except those on the list of permitted active ingredients available from Natural England
- apply any insecticides between 15 March and the following harvest
- apply any fertilisers or manures to the stubble
- apply any lime to the stubble
- top or graze
Agreement holders will need to keep the following records and supply them on request:
- field operations at the parcel level, including associated invoices
On your annual claim you will be asked to declare that you haven’t carried out any activities prohibited by the option requirements.
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 stubble area
Related Mid Tier options and supplements
The following options and supplements can be located on the same area as this option:
- HS3 – Reduced-depth, non-inversion cultivation on historic and archaeological features
- HS9 – Restricted depth crop establishment to protect archaeology under an arable rotation
- OR3 – Organic conversion – rotational land
- OT3 – Organic land management – rotational land
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.
Stubbles in the rotation
The best overwinter stubbles come from spring-sown crops, especially barley and those that receive limited herbicide. In addition, the spring crop following these stubbles can benefit farmland wildlife, especially if it is combined with another arable option.
For example, a low-input spring crop can provide habitats for spring-germinating arable plants, as well as nesting and feeding habitat for birds and brown hares.
Managing the whole crop option
Whole crop cereal stubbles can be enhanced by broadcasting beneficial seed and nectar-producing plants, such as mustard and fodder radish, on small areas during or after harvest up to a maximum of 10% of the total whole crop stubble area. This will provide additional feeding and foraging value.
The stubbles can also be used as areas for supplementary feeding when they are next to winter bird food plots.
Remember that stubbles should be in place from harvest to at least 31 December in year 5 of the agreement, after which time it can be returned to the rotation.
Managing AB7 for priority seed-eating farmland birds
The AB7 whole crop cereals option can be very successful in supporting priority seed-eating birds such as cirl buntings where the harvest is delayed until the grain is ripe. The crop can be harvested whole as grain and straw, with the grain and straw removed from the field, leaving any split grain and weedy stubble to provide two of the key resources needed. The species targeted should be identified in the local scheme targeting statement.
Published: 2 April 2015
Updated: 10 March 2017
- Updated for 2017 applications.
- Information updated for applications in 2016.
- Update to 'keeping records' section.
- First published.