A NEW survey of rare arable weeds could help farmers influence new agri-environment scheme payments, according to experts.

Plant life international, which works towards conserving plants in their natural habitat, is looking for farmers and agronomists to help map some of the UK‘s rarest arable weeds.

The charity is planning to do a survey this summer on the UK‘s most important sites for arable plants.

Taking part in the survey may give farmers “a competitive edge” when applying for the new Higher Level Stewardship Scheme, planned for 2005, said Plantlife.

“Farmers play a central role in keeping the countryside alive,” said Amanda Miller, from Plant life International Species Recovery.

“We hope to tap into their plant identification skills as they crop walk.

“Taking part in our survey will not only play a major role in conservation, but it will give farmers valuable information about the local biodiversity which they can then use in a very real way to influence the new agri-environment scheme payments,” she added.

The aim of the survey is to find out what plants have declined over the last 25 years, and map out where the most important sites for arable plants are.

Farmers and agronomists wishing to take part in the survey, or to find out more information on the survey, should contact Amanda Miller in Species Recovery.