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Arable farmland

Arable farmland refers to fields that are used to grow crops; the word ‘arable’ comes from the Latin word arare which means ‘to plough’

No less than 70% of England is farmland and a fifth of this is cultivated land. So arable fields provide a sizable habitat for both plants and animals alike. During the spring and summer, flowers are an essential source of nectar and pollen for bumblebees, butterflies and other pollinating insects. In winter seeds from plants such as black mustard, fat hen and annual meadow grass provide food for farmland birds and small mammals. In turn, there are predators that feed on these creatures. Thus by encouraging arable plants on cultivated land, the entire food web of farmland wildlife is supported and thrives.

More about arable farmland, what plants grow there and how you can help:


And on that farm...

Arable farmland is an extensive habitat found across the country, but the intensification of farming since the 1940s has resulted in the vast majority of it becoming unsuitable for wildlife. Arable plants are now the UK’s most threatened group of flora.

Read why and what can be done >



What to look for

The UK has many plants that have adapted to the demanding routine of the arable habitat. From the iconic cornflower and golden corn marigold to the brilliant red poppy and winsome Venus' looking-glass, the wild flowers of this intensive landscape provide diversity, colour and beauty.

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Important Arable Plant Areas

There are over 100 Important Arable Plant Areas in the UK - chosen because they are home to rare species, have exceptionally rich flora or are an outstanding example of their habitat. Discover more about them and how to notify us if you think you might know of a site that qualifies.

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Advice and information

From identification guides for the amateur botanist to practical advice for land owners and managers, Plantlife has produced a range of publications to help both celebrate and conserve our native flora. Click on the link below for a list of those concerning arable plants.

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