Field margins in Heilbronn, Germany

National Id
Site name
In 1992, a field margin programme has been started by the city of Heilbronn, Germany. Farmers involvement plays an important role within the programme, which includes a compensation scheme for production losses. The establishment of the field margins aim mainly at controling erosion and run-off as well as at promoting biodiversity. Infiltration of rainwater into the soil is about 20% higher in the field margins than in the fields.
RBD code
Data provider
Guillaume Michel, ACTeon
NWRM(s) implemented in the case study
Climate zone
cool temperate moist
Mean rainfall
Mean rainfall unit
Average temperature
Case Study Info
Light or indepth?
Monitoring impacts effects
Administrative annual cost information
One third of a full time worker at the administration for green areas.
Application scale
Installation date
Area (ha)
Area subject to Land use change or Management/Practice change (ha)
Size unit
Basis of design
Field margins (size, localization...) have been designed taking into account the ways of water runoff, soils types, slopes, etc.
Contractural arrangements
Design contractual arrangement
Arrangement type Responsibility Role Comments Name
Contractual agreement
Agreement between the municipality and the farmer about management rules of field margins
Institutional arrangement
Subsidies to farmers have to bi notified to the European Commission
Notification of the program at the European Commission
Design consultation activity
Activity stage Key issues Name Comments
Design phase
Cooperation with farmers and land owners
Cooperation with farmers and land owners took place during the planning and design phase through meetings and field meetings as well as discussion with groups or individual farmers.
Exhibition about the field margin programme
Numerous articles in the press, radio interviews...
Design land use change
Land use change type
Design authority
Authority type Role Responsibility Name Comments
Initiation of the measure
Heilbronn Municipality
The Heilbronn Municipality initiated the programme. It is involved in all other phases of the programme (through its administration for Green Areas) design, implementation, financing, monitoring...
The Municipality establishes directives which define the rules of the Field Margins Programmes
94 farmers and land owners.
Interested farmers are involved in the design of field margins with representatives of the municipality
Private property owners
94 farmers and land owners.
Administration for Green areas of the Heilbronn Municipality
This administration of the municipality is in charge of all green areas of Heilbronn (parks, children playgrounds, cemetery, etc.), as well as the field margins programme.
It is responsible for the coordination of the program
Kreisbauernverband Heilbronn e.V.
Farmers association around Heilbronn. It has been involved in the project. It is a farmer lobbying wanting more subsidies for field margins.
Ludwigsburg and Bietigheim-Bissingen
Two neighbouring municipalities. For the notification to the European Commision, a common request (containing programs of the three cities) was sent.
Ortsverein Landwirtschaft
Local associations of farmers
Department for nature protection of Heilbronn
Involved in the definition of rules for implementing and managing field margins ("Pflegekonzept")
Administration for agriculture in Heilbronn
Involved in the definition of rules for implementing and managing field margins ("Pflegekonzept")
Minister for rural areal of Baden-Wí¼rttemberg
Provides support to the municipality for the notification of the program to the European Commission
Key lessons
Since the start of the field margins programme of the Heilbronn municipality in 1992, about 200 km of field margins have been managed. In this program, a large place is reserved for the involvement of farmers in all stages including the design phase. A compensation scheme targeting farmers and land owners has been designed by the municipality and its partners in accordance with the European legislation on agricultural subsidies.
Financing mechanism information
Compensation scheme for the lost harvest and for the needed tools.
Financing difficulties
Success factor(s)
Success factor type Success factor role Comments
Communication activities
main factor

Close relationship of trust between farmers and the municipality (particularly the administration for green areas which coordinates the program). This is helped by the areas on which the program is implemented (Heilbronn = a small territory, farmers in Heilbronn work only in Heilbronn, etc.).

Attitude of decision makers
main factor

Elected representatives in Heilbronn agree on this program. There is therefore a very limited risk of no financing.

Attitude of the public
main factor

Field margins helped decreasing conflicts between inhabitants and farmers. The public supports hence the program.

Attitude of relevant stakeholders
main factor

Field margins helped decreasing conflicts between inhabitants and farmers. Farmers support therefore the program.

Financing possibilities
main factor

Farmers are paid in order to compensate the decrease of crops.

Financing type Comments
Local funds
The "Ackerrandstreifprogramm" (Programme for field margins) is a programme of subsidies for farmers concerned by a loss of their revenues due to the implementation of field margins. Subsidies are based on the amount of the variable cost margin. The amount of subsidies is defined in directives (from the municipality).
140 000 €/year from the municipality. The municipality is the only financer (no funds from the Land, the Federal state or the EU).
Barrier type Barrier role Comments
Legal obligations / restrictions
main barrier
Administrative procedures are difficult to carry out for a municipality (for example the notification to the EU).
Driver type Driver role Comments
Availability of subsidies
secondary driver
According to the directive of the municipality concerning the Field Margins Programme : Funding will be provided as long as the municipal budget allows it.
Financing share
Financing share type Share Comments
Part of wider plan
Policy target
Target purpose
Erosion Control
Runoff control
Oher Societal Benefits
Policy pressure
Pressure directive Relevant pressure
Policy area
Policy area type Policy area focus Name Comments
Policy impact
Impact directive Relevant impact
Policy wider plan
Wider plan type Wider plan focus Name Comments
Agro-environmental programme of Heilbronn
The Agro-environmental programme of Heilbronn has been approved by the European Commission in 2010 until 2013. For the next period 2014-2020, a new notification to the European Commission has been made under the same conditions than before.
The EU has approved the program after prolonged procedures. However, the EU does not grant co-financing. The cities of Heilbronn, Ludwigsburg and Bietigheim-Bissingen finance their agri-environment schemes to 100%.
Policy requirement directive
Requirement directive Specification
Costs total
Costs total information
In the budget of the Heilbronn Municipality, 140 000 €/year are dedicated to the Field Margins Programme.
Compensations basis information
601 €/ha + a variable part depending on type of field margin
Compensations nr beneficiaries
Compensations nr beneficiaries information
94 farmers or land owners are concerned by the programme
Compensations scheme information
One part of the payments aims at compensating the reduced gross margin (601 €/ha). The second part depends on the type of field margin. It is designed in order to cover costs linked to the care of field margins. From 2011 onwards, total costs are:
- Field margins: 1250 €/ha + seeds
- Field margins (fallow land): 1170 €/ha
- Field margin with a row of trees: 1740 €/ha + trees
- Field margins with an hedge: 2900 €/ha + plants
Ecosystem improved biodiversity
Information on Ecosystem improved biodiversity
Field margins are designed in order to promote biodiversity.
The density of earthworms in field margins has been improved (about twice more earthworms in field margins than in the neighbouring field).
Ecosystem provisioning services
Information on Ecosystem provisioning services
Some rows of fruit trees and wood trees have been planted in the field margins. They provide wood and fruits.
Runoff reduction
Runoff reduction unit
% Percent


Logos of all partners of NWRM project