Arable field margins

Field margins are strips of land on the outside edges of fields. They are valuable habitats in their own right, act as wildlife corridors and help protect hedgerows from agrochemicals. We have three types of margin:

  • Species-rich grass and wildflower margins – 2-6m wide strips of grassland
  • Cultivated margins – strips of land that are cultivated annually to encourage arable weeds
  • Mixed margins that combine both the above

Species-rich grass and wildflower margins:

  • We sow these with a local-origin, species-rich seed mix
  • In the first few years we mow the margins and remove the cuttings
  • Once established we mow and remove about one year in three
  • The margins appear to be good for Grey Partridge, Barn Owl and some invertebrates
Field margin
A species-rich, grass and wildflower margin

Cultivated margins:

  • These are cultivated once a year either in the autumn or spring
  • This creates habitat suitable for annual plants such as arable weeds
  • The margins can be very rich in flowering plants which attract invertebrates, including uncommon bees and wasps
  • Rare arable weeds that grow in cultivated margins here include Narrow-fruited Cornsalad, Round-headed prickly Poppy, Fine-leaved Fumitory, Flixweed and Night-scented Catchfly
Field Forget-me-not
Field Forget-me-not

Mixed margins:

  • These combine tall vegetation, a cultivated strip and short grassland
  • These margins aim to provide a mix of habitats in close proximity. The margins are designed to benefit Grey Partridge:
    • the rank vegetation provides cover for nesting
    • the annual weeds in the cultivated strip support the insects partridge chicks feed on
    • young chicks can dry in the short turf after wet weather
A field margin that mixes rank vegetation, cultivated ground and shorter species-rich grassland
A field margin that mixes rank vegetation, cultivated ground and shorter, species-rich grassland