GS4 Legume and Herb Rich Sward
A flowering plant mix of legumes, herbs and perennial ryegrass suitable for cattle and sheep, providing food and habitat for insects, including crop pollinators. The legume and herb-rich swards improve soil structure and water infiltration.
GS4 Legume and herb-rich swards are abundant in legumes and herbs suitable for cattle and sheep. They also provide food and habitat for insects, including crop pollinators, and improve soil structure and water infiltration.
A flowering plant mix of legumes, herbs and grasses.
Example GS4 Legume and herb-rich swards mix
• Diploid Perennial Ryegrass*
• Red Clover
• Altaswede Clover
• Alsike Clover
• Birdsfoot Trefoil
• Sheeps Fescue
• Sheeps Parsley
• Wild Carrot
*includes Aber high sugar grasses for improved quality and animal performance
GS4 Legume and herb-rich swards are eligible for a payment of £309 per hectare under the Countryside Stewardship Mid and Higher Tier agreements.
Find out more:
DEFRA Countryside Stewardship grants
How to sow GS4 Legume and herb-rich swards successfully
• Choose areas of permanent grassland cultivated within five years, temporary grassland and other agricultural grass areas. Avoid semi-natural permanent pasture
• Use in fields without a weed or slug burden as pesticide use is extremely limited
• Clovers grow less well in soil with a pH below 6.0 and index 2 for P and K. Improve soil with lime, manures or PK (but not N) fertiliser.
• Sow to a shallow depth onto a firm, clean, fine seedbed or onto an established sward, creating at least 50% bare ground
• Recommended sowing rate of 35kg/ha
• Aim to sow before 31st August to allow good establishment before winter
1. Establish a mixed sward in the first 12 months and maintained in subsequent years
2. Must contain a minimum of 10% cover of red clover and an additional 10% cover of other legumes, herbs and flowering plants (excluding white clover, creeping buttercup or injurious weeds)
3. Must contain at least five species of grass, three species of legume and five species of herbs or flowering plants
4. Can be managed by cutting or grazing
5. Rest the sward for at least five weeks between 1st May and 31st July
6. The sward area may be moved within eligible grasslands as long as the total acreage is maintained
7. Do not use nitrogen-containing inorganic fertilisers or pesticides, except herbicides to spot treat or weed-wipe injurious weeds or invasive non-native species, soft and hard rush, nettles or bracken
8. Keep records of all field operations including associated invoices, grazing activity and fertiliser plans, plus evidence the grassland has been cultivated within the last five years if a permanent grassland area
One of the following criteria must be met:
1. Follow or adopt a recommended fertiliser management system to plan nutrient inputs across the farm
2. Qualify as a low intensity farmer