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Mown Grassland For Corn Buntings

Option closed to new applications


The aim of this Option is to provide protection for the Corn Buntings.

What this will achieve

This Option will create or maintain the conditions essential for Corn Buntings to breed successfully. Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) species that may benefit include the Brown Hare. Other important bird species that may benefit include Curlew and Meadow Pipit.

What you must do


  • areas of cover suitable for Corn Buntings to nest and raise broods will be established by excluding stock from hay or silage fields from 1 May
  • these areas must be cut but cutting must be delayed to ensure that the majority of chicks are old enough to escape from the mower.

In areas where Corncrakes do not occur:

  • cutting must be delayed until after 24 July (Option 1) or until after 1 August (Option 2).

In areas where both Corncrakes and Corn buntings are present

  • cutting must be delayed until after 1 August (Option 2) to safeguard both species.

For both Option 1 and 2:

  • to minimise the risk of injury to young birds, hay and silage must be cut in a wildlife- friendly manner. This is not required for Corn Buntings but it may help other species, e.g. Grey Partridge
  • the field must not be rolled, harrowed or grazed from 1 May until after the field has been mown. Where ground nests are present before 1 May, the nests should be marked and avoided
  • a strip of uncut grass two metres wide must be left around the field boundary and pesticides must not be applied to this strip, except with the prior written agreement of Scottish Ministers for activities such as spot treatment of scheduled weeds (i.e. creeping, spear or field thistle, curled or broadleaved dock and common ragwort) or control of non-native invasive species (i.e. Giant hogweed, Himalayan balsam, Rhododendron ponticum or Japanese knotweed)
  • the same field need not be chosen each year where you rotate winter keep production around your grassland area, but you must give details at the application stage of the fields to be rotated, their locations and areas. If, during the lifetime of the plan, a variation to the approved rotation is agreed, the area upon which the annual management payment is calculated will be restricted to either that originally approved or the revised figure, whichever is lower.

Who can apply

All land managers within the breeding distribution of Corn Buntings in East Scotland, Uists and Borders are eligible to apply for this Option.

Eligibility criteria

Only fields that are used for hay or silage are eligible.

Land receiving payments for similar management under other agri-environment schemes is not eligible under this Option.

What costs could be supported

For a comprehensive list of Capital Items click here. Any cost claimed must be fully justified. The following are examples of what may be claimed:

Rate of support

This is a 5 year commitment. For Option 1, we will pay you £216 per hectare per year. For Option 2, we will pay you £224.48 per hectare per year. We will pay at the end of each year.

Inspection / verification

The inspector will check the requirements (as detailed above under 'what you must do') of the Option are being met, by a visual assessment on the day of inspection.

Beneficiaries must comply with the requirements of cross compliance, minimum requirements for fertiliser and plant protection products. You must also comply with the requirements to avoid damaging any features of historic or archaeological interest, and follow Scottish Ministers' guidance for the protection of such areas or features (detailed in links below).

The following is a brief overview of the inspection procedures, for a full explanation please see links below:

Inspectors will check:

  • Field has not been rolled, harrowed or grazed from 1 May
  • Field is mown after 1 August in a wildlife friendly manner
  • Presence of 2 m uncut strip(s)
  • Claimed capital items have been completed to approved amounts and scheme standards

List of links to relevant technical guidance

Minimum requirements for Fertiliser and Plant Protection Products - detailed guidance

Minimum requirements for protection of historic or archaeological features

'On the spot' inspections - overview of the inspection procedure