Launch of new low cost approach to help farmers increase wild pollinators on their land

A new low cost approach to increasing wild pollinators across the farmed environment has been launched by the Greater Lincolnshire Nature Partnership (GLNP).

Pollinators have three key requirements: food in the form of pollen and nectar, nesting sites and overwintering sites. The new resource includes a range of 24 measures that farmers can easily implement which will provide improved habitat to meet these pollinator needs.

The key feature is that all the options incur minimal outlay in terms of both initial financial cost and ongoing management and on top of this do not require additional land to be taken out of production.

The measures have been developed in conjunction with farmers in Greater Lincolnshire over the last 12 months as part of a project part funded by Defra through the National Pollinator Strategy. This has ensured that all the measures put forward are practicable within farm businesses.

Nature policy officer, Sarah Baker, said: "Pollinators contribute millions of pounds each year to the UK economy and yet despite the valuable work of farmers and land managers through agri-environment schemes and voluntary measures their numbers are still in decline.

"We saw an opportunity to explore whether a suite of measures could be developed that are simple and low cost for farmers to implement, taking a whole farm approach to maximising the benefits of the habitat available on their holding.

"What the project has shown us is that many farms already have existing areas of good or potentially good habitat but that farm managers aren't always aware of the value they could provide. This new resource helps highlight these areas and demonstrates how a simple change to management can become a conscious decision to improve the habitat for pollinators."

In developing the resource, the GLNP worked with two clusters of Lincolnshire farmers: one in the Fens and one on the limestone heath south of Lincoln.

In addition to the low cost measures, a simple survey form has also been developed to enable a quick assessment of current habitat provision, the pollinator groups found on the farm and to help highlight opportunities for improvements to be made.

Examples of the measures include identifying existing areas of nettles that can be topped mid-June (rather than sprayed off) to provide nesting habitat for butterflies, reducing the cutting frequency of trackways, verges and amenity grass around the farm to allow species to flower and maximising the benefits of maize game covers by using a sun-maize mix or replacing a single drill width with sunflower or other mixes.

Sarah added: "We hope that farmers can incorporate these simple measures as everyday solutions which become part of normal practice on their farm.

"If we can encourage these low level changes to be taken up at a landscape scale then we hope the cumulative impact on pollinator conservation will be greater."

The GLNP will be continuing to work with the farms involved in the project this summer through monitoring of the implemented measures.

The new approach is now available as part of an online resource which can be found at and includes a summary of the measures, further details about why they are important and how to manage them and additional sources of information on pollinator conservation.