Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) Handbook 2010 (NE226)

NEW Options for hedgerow tree buffer strips

These options are only available adjacent to hedgerows entered into an ELS hedgerow management option (EB1, EB2, EB3, EB8, EB9 or EB10), which also have on average at least one eligible tree per 100 m. For example, a hedgerow of 400 m would need to have at least four eligible trees along its length. Eligible trees are those that are native species, standing within 1 m of a hedgerow and over 30 cm diameter at breast height. These buffer strips must not overlap with the cross compliance requirement not to cultivate land within 2 m of the centre of a hedgerow or watercourse (and within 1 m or the top of the bank of a watercourse).

Both sides of a hedgerow with eligible trees must be protected, where possible, using either the Hedgerow tree buffer strip on arable land or the Hedgerow tree buffer strip on grassland option. Hedgerows alongside roads or ownership boundaries, where it is not possible to protect both sides, are also eligible for these options.

NEW OPTIONS in 2010  
EC24    Hedgerow tree buffer strips on cultivated land
400 points per ha

Fallen timber must be retained but can be stacked to allow management of the margin.

For this option, you must comply with the following:

  • Establish or maintain a 6 m wide grassy strip during the first 12 months of your agreement, either by sowing or, ideally, by natural regeneration. Remove any compaction in the topsoil if you need to prepare a seedbed, except on archaeological features. Regular cutting in the first 12-24 months may be needed to control annual weeds and encourage grasses to tiller. Avoid cutting when the soil is moist to prevent further compaction.
  • After the first 12-24 months of your agreement, cut the 3 m next to the crop edge annually after mid-July. Only cut the other 3 m to control woody growth, and no more than once every 2 years (where next to woodland, once every 10 years).
  • If you wish, you may establish all or part of the margin by sowing a mix of fine-leaved grasses and flowers, such as knapweed, bird’s-foot-trefoil, self-heal, oxeye daisy and yarrow. If you decide to do this, it is recommended that you cut each year in August or September and, if excess vegetation threatens to suppress the flowers, cut again the following March or April. This will maintain the flowers in this sward, or others resulting from natural regeneration. You may remove cuttings, which will further benefit flowers.
  • Do not use buffer strips for regular vehicular access, turning or storage. There should be no tracks, compacted areas or poaching.
  • Do not apply any fertilisers or manures.
  • Only apply herbicides to spot-treat or weed-wipe for the control of injurious weeds (ie creeping and spear thistles, curled and broad-leaved docks or common ragwort) or invasive non-native species (eg Himalayan balsam, rhododendron or Japanese knotweed).
  • Do not remove tree limbs, including the lower limbs, other than for health and safety reasons where adjacent to a public highway or right of way.
  • Leave fallen timber beneath the canopy. Stack if necessary to allow management of the buffer strip.
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