Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) Handbook 2010 (NE226)
EF2    Wild bird seed mixture
450 points per ha

Wild bird seed mixture placed against woodland.

This option has replaced EG2 Wild bird seed mixture in grassland areas and is available on arable land or temporary grassland (sown to grass for less than 5 years).

This option will provide important food resources for farmland birds, especially in winter and early spring, on arable and mixed farms. The aim is to maximise the production of small seeds suitable as bird food in either annual or annual/biennial mixtures, while also providing a source of invertebrates for birds.

This option is a 'rotational option'. This means that it can move around the farm within the normal rotation, but the same total hectarage must be maintained each year. Relocating these blocks or strips will help to avoid the build-up of weeds or soil-borne disease.

For this option, you must comply with the following:

  • Sow a balanced combination of at least three small-seed bearing crops chosen from barley, triticale, kale, quinoa, linseed, millet, mustard, fodder radish and sunflower. No single species should make up more than 70 per cent by weight of the mix and the combination must cover a range of crop groups to minimise any pest and disease impacts. Large-seeded crops (such as maize) and game covers (such as giant sorghum or sweet clover) are not allowed.
  • Sow in blocks and/or strips at least 6 m wide at the edges of fields. Both should be between 0.4 ha and 2 ha in size, and there should be no more than 3 ha in total per 100 ha of land. This will ensure that the strips or blocks are well distributed across your farm and that food is always available for seed-eating birds.
  • In the first year, sow at the optimum time for the chosen species mixture, which may be autumn or spring, ensuring that any areas of soil compaction are removed prior to establishment, except on archaeological features. Avoid sowing too early in the spring, when seedbeds may be dry, cold and of poor quality.
  • To help with weed and pest management, the seed can be sown in separate drill widths or blocks within the option area.
  • On sandy soils, strips must be sown along contours.
  • Retain the crop mixture until at least 1 March before re-establishment in spring, which could be annually or every other year (biennial crops), to maintain seed production.
  • Fertilisers, manures (but not within 10 m of watercourses) and seed treatments may be used to aid establishment, minimise impact to non-target invertebrates and ensure sufficient seed production to deliver the option aim.
  • 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). Non-residual, non-selective herbicides may be used prior to sowing, to help re-establishment.
  • Only apply environmentally sympathetic insecticides - and then only during establishment - where there is a strong risk of crop failure due to severe pest attack (identified through monitoring and use of thresholds). Advice must be taken from a BASIS professional before any insecticides are used.
  • Do not use the area for access, turning or storage.
  • Do not graze.
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