Over-winter stubble

A stubble is what is left in a field after a crop has been harvested. The remains of the crop and the weeds that grow in the stubble can be a good source of food for wildlife. This is especially true if the field is not cultivated until the spring so the stubble remains over winter.

  • Our monitoring of wildlife using stubbles indicates:
    • Many species benefit more from unsprayed stubble (see below), particularly Linnet, Skylark, Grey Partridge and Brown Hare
    • Different stubbles support different wildlife, such as Yellowhammer on millet
    • More details are in ‘Wintering birds on arable fields
  • Stubbles can attract large flocks of birds including Skylark, Stock Dove and Pink-footed Geese – see
  • Our fields can become infested with perennial weeds such as Creeping Thistle and Couch. Spraying these with glyphosate in an autumn stubble is an opportunity to kill them. As glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide, it kills most other plants too. This reduces the value of the stubble to wildlife
  • Each winter we have a minimum of 50ha of stubble that is unsprayed and not ploughed before February 15th. We get a payment for some of this through Environmental Stewardship
Arable land over winter stubbles
A barley stubble that has been sprayed with glyphosate
Unsprayed stubble
A barley stubble, not sprayed with glyphosate, with flowering arable weeds