Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) Handbook 2013 (NE349)
EF11 Uncropped cultivated margins for rare plants 400 points per ha

These margins will provide beneficial management for rare arable plants, insects and foraging sites for seed-eating birds. It is better to avoid locating these margins where you have a grass weed problem. Where run-off is a problem, a grass buffer should be considered. The option will provide greatest benefits on sandy, shallow, chalky or stony soils.

For this option, you must comply with the following:

  • Cultivate an arable field margin annually in either spring or autumn to a depth of about 15 cm (6 inches).
  • Varying the depth and time of cultivation may help prevent the build-up of undesirable weeds, but should always be managed according to the requirements of the target species.
  • Margins should be 3 m-6 m wide. They can be relocated within the same field to avoid the build-up of pernicious weeds.
  • Do not apply any fertilisers or manures.
  • Where a severe pernicious weed burden has developed, targeted broad-spectrum herbicides can be used, once annual species have set seed (typically in September). Before then, 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).

Uncropped cultivated margin, on the right of the picture, with an unfertilised headland in the edge of the crop

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