Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) Handbook 2013 (NE349)
UPDATED in 2013
EF4 Nectar flower mixture
450 points per ha

This option is available on arable land or temporary grassland (sown to grass for less than five 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. This option provides valuable benefits to wildlife at a landscape scale and is ideally suited to larger blocks and small fields.

This option 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. Relocating these blocks or strips will help to avoid the build up of weeds or soil borne disease and can be rotated with EF2 Wild bird seed mixture to utilise any residual fertility left behind.

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 in early spring or late summer.
  • Re-establish the mix as necessary, to maintain a sustained nectar supply (this is typically after three years).
  • Regular cutting and removal of cuttings in the first 12 months after sowing may be needed to ensure successful establishment of sown species.
  • 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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