EFAs are a mandatory requirement for conventional farmers with over 15 hectares of arable land. There are five options to choose from: hedgerows (which can also include a line of trees), buffer strips adjacent to watercourses and field margins, catch and cover crops, nitrogen fixing crops and fallow land.
Plant Protection Products (PPPs) can no longer be applied to in-field options like fallow, catch and cover crops, and nitrogen fixing crops. For nitrogen-fixing crops in particular, the ban applies from the point of sowing to the point of harvest, which will make them unsuitable for EFAs for the majority of growers.
The fallow option will be of particular interest for land managers as it allows the establishment of wild bird seed mixes and nectar flower mixtures. As well as meeting EFA requirements and delivering for farm wildlife, this option can be an excellent asset to a farm shoot by improving habitat to hold more game and even creating new drives. Although the PPP ban applies from the 1st January to the 30th June in England and 14th July in Scotland (the fallow option window), with the right advice and expertise, mixtures can be designed and a suitable herbicide regime adopted that will not be impacted by the change in rules.
Catch and cover crops
Catch and cover crops are also an excellent way to achieve the EFA requirement without taking land out of production. Crops such as oil radish and oats are sown after harvest and destroyed before winter planting in the case of catch crops, or before spring planting in the case of cover crops. Both varieties can retain nutrients, improve soil structure and boost soil vitality.
|Wild bird seed||Basic Wild Bird Seed Mix or Campaign Mix|
|Nectar flower||Annual Nectar Flower Mix or Basic Pollen and Nectar Mix|
|Fallow||EFA Fallow Mix|
|Buffer strip option|
|Field corners/margins||Basic Stewardship Grass Mix|
|Catch and cover crop option|
|Green cover||EFA Catch and cover crop mixtures|