The Campaign for the Farmed Environment’s popular seed mixes to support pollinators and farmland birds are back for another year.
In partnership with Syngenta and Kings Seeds, the scheme will again offer discounted annual wildflower mix and a wild bird seed mix. And with the soil warming up, now is the perfect time for sowing.
Pollen and nectar mixes can be used to enhance EFA fallow land or unproductive, awkward field corners and margins. Providing food for pollinators may also enhance your crop productivity, benefiting crop pollination and natural enemies of certain crop pests.
They are also a highly visible way to show how your farm is making an effort for wildlife, especially when planted near a footpath. For pollinators, it provides an important source of essential pollen and nectar once oil seed rape has finished flowering.
The annual seed mix is designed to have a long flowering season and be relatively easy to establish. It requires no in-season management and as an annual, it can be easily rotated around your farm. The mix contains crimson clover, red clover, phacelia, native corn flower and native corn marigold and native corn chamomile.
Recent ecological monitoring by Syngenta on farms with the Operation Pollinator annual mix recorded bumblebees, cuckoo bumblebees, honey bees, cavity bees and mining bees feeding, demonstrating the value of plantings.
The annual pollen & nectar mix is available at £35 per 4kg pack (including delivery and grower guidelines), which will sow up to 1 hectare. It can also be autumn sown, leading to earlier flowering which benefits several mining bee species known to be involved in crop pollination.
A second ‘Bees & Seeds’ mix also supports pollinators, as well as farmland birds. It provides pollen and nectar later in the summer plus plenty of seeds to feed many bird species through the winter up to March, the ‘hungry gap’. It also provides an ideal canopy for game birds and will complement game cover crops. The mix can be planted on EFA fallow land or unproductive areas, between May to mid-July. Each 20kg pack costs £50, which will cover up to a hectare.