A new wildlife plot cover crop seed mix, which promises to be one of the best yet for biodiversity, has been developed by scientists at the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT).

The ‘Wildlife Plot’ mix is available through the government funded Sustainable Farming Incentive Test and Trial pilot scheme and is expected to be incorporated into the future Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMS), enabling farmers to make space for nature alongside modern farming.

Dr. Francis Buner, GWCT senior conservation scientist, who co-designed and trialled the seed mix at the GWCT’s PARTRIDGE project at Rotherfield Estate in Hampshire, in collaboration with Oakbank Game and Conservation, said:

“I’m delighted that Defra has recognised the potential for this measure to significantly boost biodiversity.

"Many of the wild bird and pollinator mixes currently available are limited in what they can deliver.

"They often contain less than 10 species of plant, predominantly non-natives or cultivars, and need to be re-established at least every other year, leaving a big gap with no cover, food or shelter in spring and into early summer.

"Whereas the Wildlife Plot has a minimum of 20 species, mostly native perennials, providing food and nesting habitat for insects and birds all year round.

“If they are established correctly, Wildlife Plots will be good for up to ten years, avoiding the time and expense of cleaning the ground and drilling every one to two years.”