Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) Handbook 2013 (NE349)
F Options for arable land

These options are only available for arable land (see Glossary for definition).


UPDATED in 2013
EF1 Management of field corners
400 points per ha

Area constraints apply to this option.

The provision of a grassy area will greatly increase the wildlife interest of an arable field. These areas are often awkward to reach with machinery and are less productive. However, the provision of a natural grassy corner, containing some grassland flowering plants and scrub, will benefit wildlife, including invertebrates, birds, reptiles and amphibians (if located near a water feature). This option must not be located on archaeological features.

Although this option is designed for field corners, if you have small areas within the field that would be beneficial to take out of production, you may do so. Strategic placement of this option may help to reduce the movement of sediment, nutrients and pesticides by wind and water erosion within fields and from field to field. This option could also help to buffer sensitive habitats at risk from soil erosion and from the direct impact of agricultural activities.

Addition of the EE12 Supplement for wildflowers will greatly increase the value of field corners/areas for farmland biodiversity.

You can apply option EF1 to a whole field provided it is no greater than 2 ha in size. This is important in landscapes where fields have often been left uncropped (eg as set-aside or Campaign for the Farmed Environment (CFE) voluntary measures) and continue to deliver valuable wildlife areas in a production landscape.

For this option, you must comply with the following:

  • Establish or maintain a field corner during the first 12 months of your agreement, either by sowing or, ideally, by natural regeneration. Remove any compaction in the topsoil if you need to prepare a seedbed. Regular cutting in the first 12–24 months may be needed to control annual weeds and encourage grasses to tiller. Avoid cutting when the soil is moist to prevent further compaction.
  • Patch size must be no more than 2 ha and there must be a maximum of 1 paid patch per 20 ha of arable land to ensure that patches are well distributed across the land.
  • After establishment, cut no more than once every 5 years to allow the development of tussocky grass and low scrub. Do not cut between 1 March and 31 August. Do not apply any fertilisers or manures.
  • 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).
  • After controlling weeds you may surface seed patches with a tussocky grass mix.
  • Do not use field corners for regular vehicular access, turning or storage. There should be no tracks, compacted areas or poaching.

Please note that any areas containing scrub may become ineligible for SPS payments, and would have to be removed from your SPS claim form. Please see the SPS Handbook and any supplements for more information, details in Appendix 2. Scrub areas are still eligible for ELS points. Please see Appendix 6 for a definition of scrub for SPS purposes.

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