Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) Handbook 2010 (NE226)
EF4    Nectar flower mixture
450 points per ha

This option has replaced EG3 Nectar flower mixture in grassland areas and is available on arable land or temporary grassland (sown to grass for less than 5 years).

Sowing an area of flowering plants into the farmed landscape will boost the availability of essential food sources for a range of nectar-feeding insects, including butterflies and bumblebees.

For this option, you must comply with the following:

  • Remove any compaction in the topsoil if you need to prepare a seedbed, except on archaeological features.
  • Sow a mixture of at least four nectar-rich plants (eg red clover, alsike clover, bird's-foot-trefoil, sainfoin, musk mallow, common knapweed), with no single species making up more than 50 per cent of the mix by weight.
  • Sow in blocks and/or strips at least 6 m wide at the edges of fields, in early spring or late summer.
  • Individual areas must not exceed 1 ha in size and there should be no more than 3 ha per 100 ha of land. This is to ensure that they are well distributed across your farm, so that there is always food available for the nectar-feeding insects.
  • Re-establish the mix as necessary, to maintain a sustained nectar supply.
  • 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.
  • Do not apply any other pesticides, fertilisers, manures or lime.
  • To stimulate valuable late flowering to meet the peak demand from bees, cut half the area to 20 cm between mid-June and the end of the first week of July. Do not cut if ground nesting birds are present.
  • Cut the whole area to 10 cm between 15 September and 31 October, removing or shredding cuttings to avoid patches of dead material developing.
  • Do not graze in the spring or summer. Late autumn/early winter grazing of areas is allowed and will benefit legumes, but take care to avoid poaching damage and compaction, particularly when conditions are wet.
  • Do not use the area for access, turning or storage.

Nectar flower mixtures increase numbers of beneficial insects, such as bees.
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