Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) Handbook 2013 (NE349)
EF13 Uncropped, cultivated areas for ground-nesting birds on arable land 360 points per ha

Area constraints apply to this option.

This option provides breeding sites for ground-nesting farmland birds such as lapwing. In addition, it can provide foraging habitats for other declining birds such as grey partridge, turtle dove, skylark, yellow wagtail, linnet, yellowhammer and corn bunting. Brown hare may also benefit from this option in predominantly arable areas. It will deliver most benefit when sited next to a buffer strip, stubble or area planted with wild bird seed or nectar flower mixtures. Although lapwings nest on cultivated land, they feed their chicks on extensively managed grassland so placing this option next to a suitable grass field should improve their breeding success. This option should be used in large arable fields, ideally in areas where these species have been known to nest. Fields should be chosen carefully, avoiding those with pernicious weeds and those that are prone to waterlogging. This option must not be located on parcels at risk of soil erosion or run-off (as identified on your FER) or where there are archaeological features.

This option can be used in a sequence with the overwintered stubble (EF6) to provide a continuity of habitat for species such as skylark and corn bunting.

This is a 'rotational option'. This means that it can move around the farm within the normal arable rotation or stay in a fixed location but the same total hectarage must be maintained each year.

For this option, you must comply with the following:

  • The cultivated area must be located on level, or slightly sloping ground; in fields larger than 5 ha with an open aspect and at least 100 m away from woods, in-field and hedgerow trees, overhead power-lines and public rights of way in order to minimise nest disturbance and predation. Do not place in fields bounded by tree lines or adjacent to woods, unless the field is larger than 10 ha.
  • The cultivated area must be at least 1 ha and no more than 2.5 ha in size and at least 100 m wide. It must be located so as not to generate erosion and provide run-off pathways for sediment.
  • Create rough cultivated areas using tines or discs between 1 February and 20 March, to make sure they are in place for the first breeding attempts of the farmland birds. Avoid cultivating in wet conditions.
  • If the regeneration is dense and exceeds 10 cm high in early spring, and no nesting birds are present, spray or re-cultivate to restore suitable nesting habitat.
  • The cultivated areas must be retained until 31 July.
  • Undesirable weed species such as blackgrass, sterile brome and wild oats must be controlled prior to creating the rough fallow, by spraying off these areas with a non-selective herbicide.
  • The area must not be used for regular vehicular access, turning or storage. There should be no tracks, compacted areas or poaching.
  • Do not apply any fertilisers or manures.
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