Countryside Stewardship Codes – What do They All Mean?

Countryside Stewardship Codes – What do They All Mean?

When a farmer or landowner apply for a stewardship scheme, specific codes must be selected.

As many of our customers have discovered, there are numerous options, with each code having its own eligibilities and requirements.

With so many to choose from, we thought that a simple breakdown of the codes that are most popular with our customers would be a good way to make people’s lives easier.


AB1 – Nectar-Flower Mix

Through boosting essential food sources with areas of flowering plants, this scheme will help pollinators such as bumblebees, butterflies and hoverflies.

To be established in strips or blocks between 1st March and 15th September via sowing of a grass free seed mix. Once established, the mixture will provide an abundance of pollen and nectar rich flowers. Through good management, the plot will be kept in flower throughout the spring and summer. Come winter, the plot will be cut or grazed and cleared, ready for regrowth the following spring.

How much will be paid – £511 per hectare (ha)

Where to use – All or part of the land parcel or rotational on arable land or temporary grass.

Where not to use – Organic land, or land in conversion to organic.

Recommended mixture(s) – Nectar Flower


AB3 – Beetle Banks

The AB3 Beetle Bank scheme will provide forging and nesting for species such as bumblebees, insects and farmland birds.

Through the year, this option will consist of a raised bank, measuring somewhere between 3m and 5m wide and at least 0.4m high – with dense grass cover. The primary beneficiaries this scheme will be small mammals, farmland birds, bumblebees and insects that feed on crop pests.

How much will be paid – £573 per ha

Where to use – All or part of the land parcel on arable land or temporary grass.

Where not to use – Historical or archaeological features/plots that are identified in your Historic Environment Farm Environment Record (HEFER).

Recommended mixture(s) – Beetle Bank


AB8 – Flower-rich margins and plots

Plots under this scheme will provide benefits and important habitat and foraging sites for invertebrates – bumblebees, solitary bees, butterflies etc – and farmland birds.

In year 1, the site will be established in spring, summer, or early autumn. The seed mix must contain a minimum of four grass species and 10 wildflower species. The grass in the mixture will not exceed 90% of the mix by weight. When established, the plot will flower through the summer.

How much will be paid – £539 per ha

Where to use – Arable land and temporary grass land.

Where not to use – Adjacent to sites of special scientific interests (SSSIs)

Recommended mixture(s) – Wildflower Margin


AB9 – Winter Bird Food

This scheme, self-explanatory in the title, will provide an important food source for farmland birds – particularly through autumn, winter and through The Hungry Gap.

The seed mix – containing at least six small seed-bearing crops – are established in blocks or strips. The plants will flower in the summer and by the autumn will have set seed – providing an important supply of small seeds through the winter.

How much will be paid – £640 per ha

Where to use – All or part of the land parcel or rotational on arable land or temporary grass.

Where not to use – Organic land or land in conversion

Recommended mixture(s) – Pheasant & Finch, Easy Grow, Autumn Promise, Wild Bird Cereal Mix and Others.  


AB12 – Supplementary Winter Feeding for Farmland Birds

This codes scheme provides a vital food source for farmland birds from late winter through until early spring on arable and mixed farms.

By the farmer or keeper supplementing crops of winter bird food with seeds like cereals, grains and oilseed, it gives the birds a much-needed resource when seed is otherwise in short supply. It is likely you have also heard this period called ‘The Hungry Gap’.

Species that this scheme can hope to assist from December through til April include, Yellowhammer, Grey Partridge, Corn Bunting, Sparrows and more.

How much will be paid – £632 per tonne for every 2ha of winter bird food.

Where to use – Arable land or temporary grassland.

Where not to use – Organic land or land in conversion.

Recommended mixture(s) – Winterkeep Full Mix


AB13 – Brassica Fodder Crop

The scheme provides a foraging site for seed-eating birds. During the winter it provide cover, protection and feeding areas for farmland birds.

How much will be paid – £100 per ha

Where to use – All or part of the land parcel, rotational. Only on arable or temporary grassland.

Where not to use – Land at risk of erosion, land immediately adjacent to watercourse, land on historic or archaeological features.

Recommended mixture(s) – Mixtures can be recommended


AB15 – Two Year Sown Legume Fallow

The main benefit of this option is providing food for wildlife on farmland. This includes nectar and pollen for pollinators, as well as invertebrate chick food for farmland birds.

It can also be useful for reducing blackgrass populations.

How much will be paid – £522 per ha

Where to use – All or part of the land parcel on rotation, though on arable and temporary grassland only. 

Where not to use – Organic land or land in conversion.

Recommended mixture(s) – Ryegrass and Legume  


AB16 – Autumn Sown Bumblebird Mix

AB16 benefits both farmland birds and a wide range of nectar feeding insects on both arable and mixed farmland.

How much will be paid – £550 per ha

Where to use – All or part of the land parcel on rotational, on arable and temporary grassland.

Recommended mixture(s) – Autumn Bumble Bird


GS4 – Legume and Herb-Rich Swards

A good, robust sward of grassland with an abundance of legumes and herbs – suitable for cattle and sheep – that will provide benefits for invertebrates, soil structure and water infiltration.

How much will be paid – £309 per ha

Where to use – All or part of the land parcel on rotation including arable, temporary grassland and permanent grassland that has been cultivated and re-sown within the last five years. 

Where not to use – Land at risk of soil erosion or runoff, organic land or land in conversion, land with historic or archaeological  

Recommended mixture(s) – GS4 Herb-Rich Meadow, Legume and Herb Rich Grass


SW Grass Codes – Buffer Strips and Margins

There are several ‘SW’ codes that cover grass margins and borders. The benefits of these codes include aspects ranging from protecting existing landscapes and water quality, to providing habitat for wildlife and creating links or corridors between existing habitats.

Our 2-8m Margin Grass is a suitably compliant option with SW1 -SW4.  


If you would like our help planning out what might work best on your land, to maximise the environmental benefits and to maximise profit, please contact us on 01722 744494 or email sales@brightseeds.co.uk


29th November 2021

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