Autumn’s do’s and don’ts
As the final stages of harvest are taking place, thoughts are turning to other jobs on the land.

Under the ELS Hedgerow management (EB1/2/3 and EB8/9/10) hedges may now by cut, ensuring that you can only cut half the length of hedgerows in any one year (or a third under EB3 and EB10).

From 15th September vegetation on ditch banks and the bottom of the ditch can be cleared. Ditch management (EB6/7/8/9/10) allows half the length of bank or bottom of the ditch to be cut in any one year. From 15th September you may also clean half your ditches (but no more than once during the 5-years of the agreement). The spoil should not be spread on existing ELS buffer strips/field corners.

If you have included some wild flowers in your buffer strips or field corners (EE12) you should cut the whole area to 10cm high before 30th September and remove the cuttings. 

When it comes to management of woodland edges (EC4) – you can trim up to a third of the shrubby growth before end of February. And in the case of Nectar flower mixes (EF4) – between 15th September and 31st October the whole area of EF4 should be cut to a height of 10cm and cuttings should be removed or shredded. 

For over-winter stubbles (EF6 and EF22) – you have until the end of September to lightly cultivate the surface to stimulate weed/volunteer growth, while Winter cover crops (EJ13) can be established up to 15 September.


Hedgerow management (BE3) – you can now cut your hedges until 28th February, but only a third of the length in this option. If you have gone for the two-year cutting regime then you cannot cut until 1st January.

Nectar flower mix (AB1) – can be grazed from the 1st September and the entire area should be cut between 15th September and 30th March, removing or shredding cuttings.

Cultivated areas for arable plants (AB11) – can be cultivated from 1st September.

Autumn sown bumblebird mix (AB16) – should be sown by 15th September.

Woodland edges on arable land (WD3) – can be cut to maintain scrub and grass mosaic and to control injurious weeds (no more than one –third cut in any one year) 

AB12 – Supplementary Feed. A crucial option for our farmland birds and one which you need to start planning for now. The base of the ration (70%) can be a cereal so we always suggest you retain some of your own wheat/barley/oats and then you only need to buy 30% of the ration to include a further three small seeds. 
SFI – Defra have finally announced that the new SFI will open for applications on 18th September and that you can register your interest from 31st August. Please do register your interest here: It doesn’t mean you have to apply but if you don’t register your interest you could miss out on the first round of applications.
With thanks to Oakbank for this roundup of Stewardship News for September.