Creation of Grass Margins or Beetlebanks in Arable Fields
6.1.1 Areas of arable land 1.5m to 6m in width around or across land used for growing an arable crop, e.g. cereals, linseeds, oilseed, root crops, fruit crops or protein crops, including vining peas are eligible. Crops grown for green manure, e.g. mustard, or cut for silage are not eligible. The creation of these strips in or around arable fields allows insects to over winter and breed early in the new season. This can aid the biological control of insect pests such as aphids in adjacent crops. With smaller populations of these pests the necessity for pesticides use in the adjoining crop is reduced. The strips also provide cover for birds when there is little or no crop growth. If, on joining the Scheme, a grass margin has already been created (i.e. sown down to a suitable grass mix) around the arable crop, it need not be destroyed and re-sown; such a grass margin may be retained and maintained under this option. A grass margin is a strip of grass between 1.5 metres and 6 metres in width around the whole perimeter of the cropped arable field while a beetlebank is a strip of grass all the ways across and through the cropped arable field.
6.1.2 An area of grass margin or beetlebank created in the first year around or across land covered by the Unharvested Crops prescription is not eligible for a management payment under the Creation of Grass Margins or Beetlebanks in Arable Fields option. However, the grass margin or beetlebank will be eligible throughout the 5 years of the agreement if created in the first year around or within a normal harvested arable crop, then the Unharvested Crops option is adopted for a year or two and this is followed by a return to normal harvesting of an arable crop in that field during the remaining years of the agreement. Where 25% or less of the field is under an 'unharvested crop', and the remainder is under a crop to be harvested in the normal way, the grass margin around the field containing both types of 'crop' will be eligible.
6.1.3 The specific management to be applied is:
126.96.36.199 The strip must be established in the first Spring following approval by sowing a suitable mixture of grass seeds (Appendix XIV). The cost of this mix is taken into account in the management payment. Mixtures suitable for grass margins and beetlebanks within arable situations should both serve to encourage invertebrate predators and suppress weeds. Therefore, tussock-forming grass species such as Cocksfoot, Timothy and Oat-grass should be included in the mix. The mixture should also contain a limited proportion of Perennial Ryegrass and Creeping Red Fescue - grass species which will rapidly cover bare land and suppress weed development.
188.8.131.52 It is expected that the fields selected for grass margins or beetlebanks will remain in an arable crop for the duration of participation in the scheme, to obtain full conservation benefit from this prescription.
However, it would be acceptable to retain grass margins/beetlebanks in a set aside field for one year provided the field was in an eligible crop the year prior to and will be in the year following set aside.
In a mixed arable situation where a field will be put into grass or a non eligible crop after 3 years, the beetlebank/margin may be transferred to another eligible field for the remaining 2 years of the scheme, in expectation that this will continue into the second 5 year cycle. SEERAD needs to be given details at application stage of the beetlebank/grass margins to be 'rotated' in this way, i.e. Field Identifiers and area measurements.
Transfer of a beetlebank/grass margin may only be carried out once during the 5-year cycle of the scheme.
184.108.40.206 Scrub control and the use of pesticides may be permitted but only with the prior written agreement of Scottish Ministers.
220.127.116.11 Fertiliser, slurry and farmyard manure must not be applied to the strips.
18.104.22.168 A sterile strip up to 0.5m in width may be created and maintained by rotovation and herbicide along the inner edge of the grass margin. Such a strip will provide young birds with an area on which to dry out and also act as a buffer preventing the spread of weeds from the grass margin into the crop. The sterile strip is included in the area for payment.
22.214.171.124 Grazing or topping of the grass margin or beetlebank after harvest is permissible provided the average height of vegetation in the strip is not taken below 100mm.
6.1.4 Grass margins and beetlebanks receiving RSS assistance are eligible for the Single Farm Payment.
6.1.5 Set-aside management requirements do not conform with those for the RSS Management of Grass Margin/Beetlebank option, in particular the cutting/grazing regime. Therefore, an area being managed under this RSS option is not eligible as set-aside.
6.1.6 Under RSS, grazing of grass margins/beetlebanks is permitted after harvest. Such grass margin/beetlebank areas are treated in the same way as uncultivated grass banks within a cropped field and therefore can be counted as forage for LFASS purposes.
6.1.7 The fact that a farmer is managing land in the interest of conservation does not over-ride the right of responsible access established by the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. Occasional access including riding of horses across or along the strips is acceptable within the RSS, as long as care is taken to avoid damage
to the conservation benefit of the margin. In any cases where the conservation benefits which the margin is expected to deliver might be adversely affected, participants should use local management measures (e.g. signs and provision of an alternative route) to avoid damage. A sign template can be viewed at:
http://www.outdooraccess-scotland.com/default.asp; this will be particularly useful where adverse effects may occur within a limited period, such as the nesting months for ground nesting birds. Similarly, land managers may occasionally drive vehicles along or across margins, as long as the conservation benefit is not damaged.
6.1.8 In measuring the area eligible for payment the measurement should be on the flat. Where the strips are not of even width and regular shape the area should be accurately measured on the ground and transposed onto the map as accurately as possible.
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