Few weeds normally survive in traditionally managed cereal crops, however these weeds support insects and produce seed both of which are important food sources for farmland birds and other wildlife. In addition, not all farmland wildlife can be encouraged through the use of margin habitats, some species prefer to live or forage within fields during the spring and summer including birds such as grey partridge, corn buntings and skylarks which are seeking out insects and weeds, brown hares feeding on weeds and mice searching for weed seeds. In winter, many more bird species and small mammals forage within fields for seeds. This option provides food-rich habitats throughout the year for wildlife and was used very successfully to encourage cirl buntings.
Cereals can be either or autumn or spring sown, straw must be chopped or baled. When few weeds are present then a light cultivation is permissible before the end of September or within a month of harvest if later. No topping or grazing of the stubble is permitted.
Some herbicides are allowed including the use of amidosulfuron to control broad-leaved weeds between 1 February and 31 March. Grass weeds can be controlled with gramminicides comprised of the following active ingredients: tri-allate, fenoxaprop-P-ethyl, dicloflop-methyl + fenoxaprop-P-ethyl, tralkoxydim, clodinafop-propargyl or pinoxaden.
No insecticides are allowed after 15 March until harvest, and neither can crop desiccants or fertilisers of any type be applied.
This option can be rotated around the farm but maintaining the same hectarage and fields can be returned to the rotation after 15 February.