Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) Handbook 2010 (NE226)
ELS10_3_2_EL4
EL4    Management of rush pastures in SDAs
60 points per ha

Damp pasture is a valuable habitat for breeding birds.

This option is available inside the SDAs and below the Moorland Line and above it on parcels less than 15 ha.

Fields where at least a third of the field area is covered by rushes are eligible for this option. Damp pasture on farmland is a very important potential habitat for lapwing, curlew, redshank and snipe. Different types of waders prefer different vegetation heights, so a variety in the sward structure is most beneficial. Rush pastures may also contain a wide range of plant and invertebrate species.

For this option, you must comply with the following:

  • Maintain as grass. Do not plough, cultivate or re-seed.
  • Cut rush-dominated areas each year, but not between 1 April and 31 July. Cut no more than a third of the area of rushes in each field, or a third of the fields if they are small (ie less than 3 ha), in rotation. It may be impractical to cut rushes in the wettest flushes; therefore these can be left. Cattle trampling may help to control these areas.
  • Once cut, if aftermath grazing does not control rushes, a second cut should be carried out within 8 weeks, but not between 1 April and 31 July.
  • Where possible, graze the aftermath with cattle.
  • Do not harrow or roll between 1 April and 30 June.
  • Supplementary feeding is allowed, but move feeders as often as required to avoid poaching. Do not feed on or next to archaeological features, steep slopes, footpaths or watercourses.
  • You may apply up to 12.5 tonnes/ha (5 tonnes/acre) of FYM a year, but only where the grassland is regularly cut. Only apply FYM during the growing season, provided no birds are nesting in the field and ground conditions are dry enough to prevent soil compaction. No other type of fertiliser or manure may be applied. If your current manure and fertiliser regime is less than this, you must not increase applications. You may find it useful to refer to the table in Appendix 4 showing average total N supplied by various manures.
  • You may continue adding lime where this is your regular practice.
  • 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).
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