Land set aside

Land set aside
Areas of wild herbs on agricultural fields provide important areas for resting, breeding, feeding, mating or cover. © Kerstin Ziebandt/

Involved sectors

Agriculture, Nature protection

Affected habitats

Bogs and fens, wetlands, Grassland, Arable land


Set-aside areas distributed across the agricultural landscape can create high-quality habitats for wild fauna and flora and thus contribute on a sustainable basis to the conservation of characteristic communities in open farmland. Diverse vegetation structures, e.g. areas of wild herbs on agricultural fields, provide important areas for resting, breeding, feeding, mating or cover (e.g. for Corn Bunting (Emberiza calandra), Skylark (Alauda arvensis) and Brown hare (Lepus europaeus)) and provide overwintering areas for insects and spiders. They can compensate for the loss of former near-natural habitats and take on regulatory functions. They also act as a buffer to other habitats and due to their insular distribution, are important elements of the biotope network in the otherwise intensively used agricultural landscape. Areas of wild herbs on agricultural fields can be established as rotational fallow and wildflower strips (established for 2-6 years in the agricultural landcape; the fields are sown with native field species and wild herbs and are not fertilised or treated with pesticides).


Impact in particular on Small mammals, Big mammals, Birds, Insects
Ecological impact  
Improvement or preservation of habitats Set-aside areas act as buffer zones between different forms of use, especially close to ecologically valuable biotopes, and provide a habitat for rare species.
Element of ecological network Fallow areas act as stepping stone biotopes. This impact is greatly increased through the inclusion of the areas in local planning.
Other Set-aside areas reduce nitrogen inputs and contribute to soil protection.
Time of realisation for measure Months: Areas enhanced in this way provide year-round habitats.
Impact scope Local (municipality): The impact of the measure can be greatly increased if individual sites are integrated into a broader network (e.g. field margins, extensively managed areas, hedges).


Implementation period Weeks: Establishment and maintenance (seeding with site-appropriate mixes of native grasses/herbs, soil management) of the set-aside areas can be well-integrated into routine land management.
Frequency Non-recurring, Recurring: The set aside land can change annually, but should be part of an overall set aside concept.

Economic and legal aspects

Costs Very low (less than 1'000 EUR): Set-aside may be subsidised by up to €200/ha p.a.
Socio-economic impacts Low: Subsidies can provide a basic income for farmers. Set-aside also enhances the appearance of the landscape and safeguards pollination of crops.
Sources of financing Public: local, Public: regional, Public: national, Public: European
Legal situation Relevant measures are subsidised through various countryside management and cultural landscape programmes.

Further information

Evaluation Set-aside was introduced by the EU from 1988/89 (mandatory from 1993/94) to 2007/08 with the aim of regulating the quantities of farm goods being produced. In Switzerland, direct payments are still linked to "evidence of ecological performance", which includes, among other things, the provision of an appropriate proportion of ecological compensation areas.
Information Switzerland: Further information is available from the relevant authorities.

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