How much is paid
£253 per hectare (ha).
How long this option lasts
This option lasts for 10 years, instead of the standard 5 years for the grant scheme.
Where to use this option
Available for Higher Tier
Whole or part parcel
Only on arable, temporary or former set-aside grassland that has low or moderate potential for the creation of grassland priority habitat.
Features that can be included in this option
It can be used on the following features if they are part of the land, even if they are permanently ineligible for the Basic Payment Scheme:
- ditches, dykes, drains, rivers or streams that are less than 4m wide for the majority of their length in the parcel
- permanent water less than or equal to 0.1ha, at the discretion of Natural England (larger areas may be permitted on coastal and floodplain grazing marsh)
- temporary water
- natural unsurfaced roads, tracks, paths and bridleways (as long as the requirements of the option can still be carried out)
- scree, rock outcrops and boulders up to 0.1ha
- grazed woodland and scrub that has grass underneath it and that livestock can access, at the discretion of Natural England
- small areas of other habitat types, such as reedbeds, at the discretion of Natural England
How this option will benefit the environment
It will establish a suitable sward with a range of grass, legume and wildflower species. This will protect and enhance the targeted feature, as well as benefiting a range of other species, such as bumblebees, butterflies, birds or bats. Buried archaeological features will not be disturbed.
Agreement holders will need to establish a grassy sward with a range of grass, legume and wildflower species in the first year of the agreement.
Once this is established:
- maintain it as permanent grassland
- maintain a range of plant heights suitable for invertebrates, birds or other priority species
- manage the grassland by grazing or cutting
- maintain a continuous cover over historic features
- use little or no manure, fertiliser, pesticide or supplementary feed
- maintain scrub, rushes and other potentially dominating plants at the levels set out in the agreement
- control undesirable plants (these will be specified in the agreement)
A detailed implementation timetable for the creation of the grassland will also need to be agreed. This should set out how it will be created, including details of the varieties and quantities of seed or plant material to be used and where they will come from. It should also set out how the sward will be managed once it has been established.
- plough, cultivate or re-seed the grassland after successfully establishing it, unless agreed in writing with Natural England
- harrow, roll or allow scrub or bracken to encroach on historic or archaeological features
- carry out activities that may disturb birds or damage nests
Agreement holders will need to keep the following records and supply them on request:
- receipted invoices, consents or permissions connected with the work
- field operations at the parcel level, including associated invoices
- a standard soil analysis, to be completed in the final agreement year and results submitted with final claim
- soil analysis results
- inputs used
- any sites grazed will require a grazing activity record
On your annual claim you will be asked to declare that you haven’t carried out any activities prohibited by the option requirements.
You should also be aware that at the start of each claim year, a percentage of agreement holders will be asked to take and submit the following photographic records:
- photographs of the management undertaken
Applicants will need to send the following with their application:
- a standard soil analysis, including analysis of organic matter by loss on ignition
- photographs showing any areas where sward enhancement will be carried out
- a map of the existing drainage system
- photograph of current scrub extent
The detailed requirements for this option will be tailored to the Higher Tier site. Applicants should discuss and agree these requirements with their adviser.
These options and supplements can be located on the same area as this option:
- BE3 - Management of hedgerows
- GS15 - Haymaking supplement
- OR1 - Organic conversion - improved permanent grassland
- OT1 - Organic land management - improved permanent grassland
- SP2 - Raised water level supplement
- SP4 - Control of invasive plant species supplement
- SP5 - Shepherding supplement
- SP6 - Cattle grazing supplement
- SP8 - Native breeds at risk supplement
- SP9 - Threatened species supplement
- WT3 - Management of ditches of high environmental value
Advice and suggestions for how to carry out this option
The following section gives advice on carrying out this option successfully, but does not form part of the requirements for this option.
Species and features this option can be used for
It can be used for a wide range of species or other features, such as:
- priority species
- scarce plants
- bumblebees, butterflies or other targeted invertebrates
- birds or other targeted vertebrates
- feeding areas for over-wintering geese in target locations that are free from disturbance
- buried archaeological features
Clear evidence will be needed that the feature is present on the site or close to it. Applicants should discuss the suitability of the site with their adviser and agree what management is needed.
What is needed
The management of land under this option can be very varied, but it is likely to need:
- appropriate livestock, over which the agreement-holder has full control
- machinery to carry out management requirements, such as cutting
- consideration of how best to manage associated features, such as ditches
- capital works to support this option (eg to oversow with additional plant species, use option FM2 - Major preparatory works for priority habitats (creation and restoration) and priority species
After the agreement term, the grassland may be eligible for option GS13 - Management of grassland for target features.
See the Higher Tier manual to find out more about the scheme and how to apply.