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


Only on:

  • 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

Do not:

  • 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

Keeping records

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

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.

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.

Rotational management

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. Delaying harvest as late as possible is beneficial but it must still be harvested as a whole crop cereal.

Permitted active ingredients

The following herbicide active ingredients can be used:

  • Amidosulfuron
  • Clodinafop-propargyl
  • Fenoxaprop-P-ethyl
  • Pinoxaden
  • Tri-allate

Please note: the permitted active ingredients cannot necessarily be used on all eligible crops within options AB7, AB10 and AB14. It is the responsibility of the agreement holder to confirm whether herbicides are approved for use on the affected crop. ALWAYS use pesticides in full accordance with the product label conditions of use.

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 6 July 2018 + show all updates
  1. List of permitted active ingredients added to section on Advice and suggestions.
  2. Updated for 2017 applications.
  3. Information updated for applications in 2016.
  4. First published.