Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) Handbook 2010 (NE226)
EF6    Overwintered stubble
120 points per ha

Overwintered stubble provides an important winter food source for seed-eating birds, which feed on spilt grain and the seeds of broad-leaved weeds. They are also a habitat for brown hare, and the spring-grown crops that follow can provide breeding sites for ground-nesting birds, such as lapwing and skylark. This option manages stubble following the harvest of combinable crops, such as oilseed rape, linseed, cereals or field beans (but not maize), until 14 February in the following year. It should not be located where there is a high risk of soil erosion or run-off (that is, land identified in your FER as at risk of soil erosion and where rills are regularly seen in wet weather).

This 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.

For this option, you must comply with the following:

  • Bale (or chop and spread) straw after harvest.
  • Where the stubble is predominantly clean after harvest, a light surface cultivation can be made before the end of September or within the first month following harvest if later, to encourage weed germination and loosen any surface compaction or capping. If the stubble is already weedy, do not cultivate.
  • In sloping fields the tramlines, headlands and other areas of severe compaction should always be sub-soiled following harvest (except where there are archaeological features or when conditions are wet), to reduce the risk of run-off and erosion.
  • Do not apply any pesticides, fertilisers, manures (including manure heaps) or lime to the stubble.
  • Do not top or graze.
  • Do not apply pre-harvest desiccants or post-harvest herbicides.
  • From 15 February, the stubble can be returned to the farm rotation.

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