Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) Handbook 2010 (NE226)
ELS10_3_2_EF22
NEW OPTION in 2010  
EF22    Extended overwintered stubble
410 points per ha

This option covers the whole cropping year using overwintered stubble followed by natural regeneration to provide vital winter food sources for seed-eating birds and spring and summer foraging and nesting habitat for other farmland birds.

This option is targeted at whole or part fields that are left uncropped to naturally produce rough fallow conditions. This should provide suitable nesting conditions for skylark and other ground-nesting birds throughout the breeding season. The winter stubble is also a beneficial habitat for brown hare.

This option must follow a combinable crop, such as oilseed rape, linseed, cereals or field beans (but not maize). Care must be taken to avoid fields with a known weed or flooding problem. 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 option is a 'rotational option', which means it can be move around the farm within the normal arable rotation, but the same total hectarage must be maintained each year. It can be left in a fixed location for up to 2 years.

For this option, you must comply with the following:

  • This option must be in arable fields of 2 ha or over. It can be part or whole-field, but if part-field, the area must be at least 2 ha in size.
  • Do not apply pre-harvest desiccants or post-harvest herbicides.
  • Bale (or chop and spread) straw after harvest.
  • Where the stubble is predominately clean after harvest, a light surface cultivation can be made before the end of September (or within the first month of 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.
  • 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.
  • Beneficial seed and nectar producing plants such as mustard, fodder radish or oilseed rape can be broadcast or sown on small areas (no more than 0.5 ha per 10 ha stubble) in either autumn or spring, to enhance the feeding and foraging value.
  • Do not top or graze.
  • The stubble and any subsequent natural regeneration must be left undisturbed until 31 July of the following year.
  • Undesirable weed species such as blackgrass, sterile brome and wild oats can be controlled by spraying the affected areas from 15 May.
  • 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).
  • From 1 August, you may apply herbicides to destroy the green cover.
  • From 15 August, the option area is returned to normal farm management.
  • Do not use the area for regular vehicular access, turning or storage.
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