Arable land reverted to grass

CFE VM 20 (cropped)

The aim: To establish grass areas, particularly in arable landscapes, to provide habitat and foraging areas for insects and other wildlife.

The action: Establish or maintain an area of grass and non-woody vegetation with a minimum width of 6m. Manage without fertilisers by grazing or cutting. Allow wildflowers to set seed.

What

Allow arable land to revert to grassland in strips, field corners or whole/partial fields.
In general these areas will be permanent but can be relocated if necessary to meet agronomic or land use change.

Why

  • Reverted arable areas have been shown to boost beneficial insect numbers (for example, bumblebees and natural enemies of pests) as well as providing important habitats for a range of wildlife including mammals.
  • Flower-rich reverted arable areas can also provide foraging habitat for farmland birds.
  • Placing arable reversion in areas at risk of erosion and run-off can help to protect soils and watercourses.

How

Creation

  • Establish or maintain a grassy area with a minimum width of 6m, which should be in addition to cross compliance protection zones next to a hedgerow or watercourse.
  • Remove any compaction in the topsoil and sub soil, except on archaeological features.

Management

  • Maintain the grassy areas by light grazing or at least an annual cut.
    • If cutting, allow the grass to set seed and do not cut the area earlier than the end of July.
  • Do not cultivate the area after the area has been established.
  • Do not apply any fertilisers, organic manures or waste materials (including sewage sludge) to these areas.

Funding may be available through Countryside Stewardship with the option SW3: In-field grass strips

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