Getting the management right for the first 12 months is the key to successful margins, says Elizabeth Ranelagh of the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG).

“Establishment is very important,” she stresses. “That means creating a fine seedbed, spraying off existing vegetation if necessary and broadcasting or drilling the seed shallowly, rolling where possible.”

Frequent cutting is needed in the first year, she continues. “This may mean cutting up to six times. It helps to control annual weeds, encourages grasses to tiller and prevents some of the grasses from becoming too dominant.”

Tall, tussocky grasses are a good choice for margins near watercourses, recommends Ms Ranelagh. “Finer grasses are good for field corners, as they are slower growing. Whichever grass mix you opt for, it should be sown in the autumn.”

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