Voluntary Measures

Last updated: 01 Jul 2013

CFE promotes 22 Voluntary Measures.

Click on each one for more information on what to do and the benefits it will provide on your farm...

The Top Tip outlines the best practice for implementing certain of the measures...

Some measures could count as EFA if they are situated on eligible land and comply with Greening rules (the Defra CAP reform webpages have more details)...

Download the Voluntary Measure list from here

CFE Voluntary Measures


Top Tip

Ecological Focus Area

(see note above)

1. Grass buffer strips next to a watercourse or pond

To provide a grassy buffer so that soil, run-off, pesticides and fertiliser stay out of watercourses on your farm

Install at least 6 metre widths to protect watercourses on your farm.

Avoid driving on buffers as this could increase compaction.

Yes. Fallow land.

2. In-field grass strips to avoid erosion

To reduce field erosion and  run-off and trap sediment, including soil, nutrients and pesticides. Also provides habitat for wildlife.

Install at least 3 metre widths.

Avoid driving on strips as this could increase compaction.

Yes. Fallow land.

3. Management of maize to avoid erosion  

To minimise soil erosion, improve soil structure and reduce the risk of run-off.                                     


4. Watercourse fencing

To keep stock out of watercourses and off banks adjacent to watercourses to avoid bank erosion and contamination of water with soil and faeces.


5. Winter cover crops

To avoid soil erosion and nitrate leaching over winter on vulnerable (generally light) soils. This can also improve soil fertility depending on the crop established.

Yes. Cover crops.

6. Wildflower mix

To increase amounts of wildflowers in grass margins, buffers and field corners for farm wildlife, particularly insects.

Yes. Fallow land.

7. Pollen & nectar mix

To provide food for nectar feeding insects, including bumble bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects, for as long a season as possible.

Sow a mix with at least 4 nectar-rich plant species

Cut all of area once a year and part of area twice

Yes. Fallow land.

8. Legume and herb rich temporary grass

To provide enhanced food supplies and habitat for invertebrates in temporary grassland, whilst improving soil structure and providing high quality animal feed.

Yes. Fallow land.

9. Ryegrass seed for birds

To provide a winter food source for birds from temporary grassland.

Yes. Fallow land.

10. Wild bird seed mix and maize-free game strips

To feed wild farmland birds over winter.

Do not sow maize in game strips

Install areas of at least 0.4 hectare and minimum 6 metre wide

Yes. Fallow land.

11. Skylark plots

To provide landing and feeding areas for skylarks, safe from predators, in winter cereals.                         

Establish in winter cereals

2 plots per hectare

Site away from boundaries (at least 50 metres), trees (at least 100 metres) and tramlines

No (too small)

12. Lapwing plots

To provide sparsely vegetated nesting sites for lapwing and other ground-nesting birds in large arable fields.

Yes. Fallow land.

13. Unsprayed and/or unfertilised cereal headlands

To provide an area for arable plants and insects to thrive, where birds can feed.                                     


14. Cultivated margins

To allow rare arable plants to germinate annually on lighter soils. This will encourage insects.

Select lighter soils and areas known to have rare arable weeds

Avoid watercourses and areas with pernicious weeds, e.g. ragwort, brome, blackgrass

Cultivate to 15cm in autumn or spring

Yes. Fallow land.

15. Over wintered stubbles

To provide food and cover over winter for birds and other wildlife, with options for increasing benefits for wildlife in the previous crop and the following spring and summer.

Avoid pre-harvest desiccant, post-harvest herbicide, manure or lime

Leave as stubble for as long as possible after mid-February

No. Could count as Fallow land, but would need to be left in place from 1st January to 30th June

16. Supplementary winter feeding for farmland birds

To feed wild farmland birds (not gamebirds) during the "hungry gap" of January to March and beyond.

Supplementary guidance to be produced soon. 


17. Field corners

To create wildlife habitat, buffer features and minimise run-off and erosion. No additional guidance.

Yes. Fallow land.

18. Beetle banks

To create dry in-field habitat in place of hedges or ditches, which will provide wildlife corridors as well as breeding and feeding habitat for insects, birds and other wildlife.                                          

Yes. Fallow land.

19. Fertiliser-free permanent pasture

To increase wildflowers, insects and small mammals in permanent pasture, and protect soil and water.


20. Arable land reverted to grass

To establish grass areas, particularly in arable landscapes, to provide habitat and foraging areas for insects and other wildlife, and to protect archaeology. No further guidance.

Select decent sized area, at least 6 m wide as margin strips

Graze or cut at least annually after 31 July

Possible as Fallow land.

21. Selective use of spring herbicides

To reduce herbicide use on land to encourage a diverse range of non-competitive weeds in the crop. This will benefit insects, birds and other wildlife.

No autumn herbicides

Only amidosulfuron in spring

Ask for advice from BASIS-trained agronomists


22. Brassica fodder crops

To allow weeds to set seed in the crop to benefit insects and seed-eating birds over winter


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