Last updated: 16 Jul 2013

The CFE is helping pollinators on farms

CFE & pollinators_800_388The Campaign seeks to increase biodiversity on farms through implementation of the voluntary measures. Biodiversity begins with flowering plants and the beneficial insects they support. CFE have run a variety of events to provide expert advice on how to manage some of the measures that are of high value to pollinating insects.

CFE Pollinators leaflet_429_574The CFE guide to Pollinator management for your farm business shows farmers how including CFE Voluntary Measures on fallow or unproductive land will benefit pollinators, as well as a range of other wildlife.

The guide will also show farmers how they can help to support the delivery of elements of the National Pollinator Strategy. This Strategy sets out the UK Government’s plan to make sure pollinators thrive, providing essential pollination services and benefits for crop production, the wider environment and everyone.

Read about the National Pollinator Strategy ‘Call to Action’ here.

Download the leaflet from here.

In the UK, there are around 267 species of bee and their diversity, coupled with their exclusive diet of pollen and nectar, means bees are regarded as the main pollinators of most of our wildflowers and insect-pollinated crops.

Bees need food (plants providing pollen and nectar) and sites for hibernation and nesting. Farming can help provide these resources for bees by taking up the relevant measures under the CFE. By encouraging pollinators, farmers can also improve crop productivity. Pollination is vital to the production of many horticultural and agricultural crops in the UK. This pollination is valued at £510m per year.

CFE Pollinator Farm Champion

Following a nationwide search the CFE are proud to announce that Olly Harrison from Merseyside is the CFE Pollinator Farm Champion 2016. Read More

CFE and #BeesNeeds

With Pollinator Awareness Week on 13-19 July 2016, Campaign for the Farmed Environment (CFE) project officer Bethan Williams looked at what farmers can do to help support pollinators on farm. Read More

Hedges TINYManaging Hedges to Benefit Pollinators

The Campaign for the Farmed Environment has produced a leaflet on managing hedges to benefit pollinators.

Download the leaflet from here

The following CFE Voluntary Measures provide food and shelter for pollinators:

6. Wildflower mix: to increase amounts of wildflowers in grass margins, buffers and field corners to provide food for pollinators.

7. Pollen & nectar mix (including plants like clovers, trefoils and knapweed): to provide food for nectar feeding insects, including bumble bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects, for as long a season as possible

8. Legume and herb rich temporary grass: to provide enhanced food supplies and habitat for pollinators in temporary grassland, whilst improving soil structure and providing high quality animal feed.

13. Unsprayed and/or unfertilised cereal headlands: to provide an area for arable plants and insects to thrive

17. Field corners: to create habitat for pollinators, plus buffer features to minimise run-off and erosion.

19. Fertiliser-free permanent pasture: to increase wildflowers and insects in permanent pasture, and protect soil and water.

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 and other wildlife.

More details on implementing these measures are here.

Test your knowledge...

CFE has developed a Pollinator Management Online Training Module for agricultural advisers, land agents and agronomists to use as a convenient tool to get up to speed on the subject. Access the Module here.

Find out more...

CFE's partner, the NFU have also produced a leaflet on Farming for Bees, more information here. Follow the links to download the NFU Farming for Bees leaflet or find out how to Help Pollinators on Your Farm.

Bumblebee Conservation Trust provide a range of advice on managing your land for bees here

Hedgerow in May with wildflowers_275_366Hedgerows are also important for pollinators...

Hedgelink produce advice on how to manage hedgerows including:

A cut above the rest: managing hedges for the future (DVD)

Bumblebees & hedges (Leaflet)

The complete hedge good management guide. (Leaflet)

Natural England have also produced guides on:

Hedge cutting.

Hedge planting.

Hedgerow trees.

Pollinator Event Reviews

During the summer of 2014, CFE ran pollinator events for farmers and advisers across England. Reviews of the events are here.

The videos below are examples of CFE events giving advice on management for pollinators to farmers:

Elizabeth Ranelagh from CFE in East Anglia discusses the importance of pollinators at a CFE "Pollinators on Productive Land" farm walk at Hall Farm, Newmarket, Cambridgeshire

Farmer Ashley Cooper discusses a cultivated arable margin at aCFE "Pollinators on Productive Land" farm walk at Hill Farm, Halstead, Essex

Farmer Ron Gabain discusses his management of field corners and nectar flower mixes atthe CFE"Pollinators on Productive Land" farm walk at Hall Farm, Newmarket.

Creating pollinator-friendly areas:

VM 7: Pollen & Nectar Mix


The species mix in this measure produces dense vegetation, targeted for invertebrates. The sown pollen and nectar mixture in this measure provides an important habitat for a range of valued insects including butterflies and bumblebees.

With the correct management and choice of species, these areas can last a number of years without the need to re-establish the mixture.

How can this measure work for you?

As well as providing benefits for wildlife, this option can also provide important habitat for pollinators and natural predators which may benefit your crop. Once again this option can offer a good public relations opportunity if positioned where people will see it.

Management guidelines:

  • Sow in blocks and/or strips averaging at least 6m wide at the edges of fields (this should be in addition to the cross compliance protection zone next to a hedgerow/water course), with a minimum area of 0.4ha in early spring or late summer.

  • The mixture should contain at least four nectar-rich plants (e.g. 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.

  • Remove any areas of soil compaction prior to establishment except on archaeological features.

  • Cut the whole area to 10cm 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.

  • No pesticides, fertiliser, organic manures or waste materials (including sewage sludge) can be applied.

VM6: Wildflower mix


Wildflower headlands provide important pollen and nectar sources for a range of insects. They also provide feeding opportunities for farmland birds in terms of invertebrates during spring/summer months and seed during winter months. Wildflower headlands can also be used to buffer hedges, woodland and watercourses from sprays, fertilisers, run-off and soil erosion.

How can this measure work for you?

As well as providing benefits for wildlife, this measure n can also provide important habitat for crop pollinators and natural enemies of certain crop pests which may benefit your crop. This option also offers a wonderful opportunity to enhance the conservation credentials of the farm! Particularly if placed near to a footpath, walkers will see first-hand that the farm is making an effort for wildlife and many growers, who have already used this option, say that it has been a tremendous way of improving local relationships with the public.

Management guidelines:

  • Establish the margin with a minimum average width of 6m

  • Remove any areas of soil compaction prior to establishment except on archaeological features.

  • The headland should be cut annually in the autumn/winter.

  • Cuttings should be removed to benefit flower production and survival.

  • Do not apply pesticides fertilisers, organic manures or waste materials (including sewage sludge) on the wildflower margin area.

  • Sow a mix of fine-leaved grasses and flowers, such as knapweed, bird’s-foot-trefoil, selfheal, oxeye daisy and yarrow.

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