GS13: Management of grassland for target features

Find out about eligibility and requirements for the management of grassland for target features option.

How much is paid

£90 per hectare (ha).

Where to use this option

It is available for Higher Tier on whole or part parcels, only on grassland that meets both of the following requirements:

  • it has moderate or low potential for being restored to priority habitat
  • it is clearly associated with a species or feature that would benefit from focused management

Alternatively, you can use it on priority coastal and floodplain grazing marsh that meets both of the following requirements:

  • it is not targeted for the wet grassland options (GS9, GS10, GS11 and GS12)
  • it is clearly associated with a species or feature that is targeted by Natural England and that would benefit from focused management

Where this option cannot be used

On grassland that is classed as grassland priority habitat (with the exception of priority coastal and floodplain grazing marsh).

Features that can be included in this option

You can include 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 you can still carry out the requirements of the option)
  • bracken
  • 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 maintain or increase the quantity of the targeted habitat, species or features. Many priority species such as bumblebees, butterflies, birds or bats will also benefit. Buried archaeological features will not be disturbed.


You will probably need to:

  • maintain or increase the presence, quality or abundance of the targeted feature
  • 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, particularly 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)

Do not:

  • plough, cultivate or re-seed the grassland, unless agreed 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

Keeping records

On your annual claim you must declare that you have not carried out any activities prohibited by the option requirements.

You must 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
  • inputs used
  • any sites grazed will require a grazing activity record
  • a standard soil analysis carried out in the last 5 years. The rules for farmers and land managers to prevent water pollution already require farmers and land managers to carry out soil testing on cultivated agricultural land - you can use these test results to meet the record-keeping requirements for this option
  • if there is scrub on the site, photographs showing the extent of it
  • if there is scrub or bracken on historic or archaeological features, photographs of the extent of it
  • photographs showing any areas where sward enhancement will be carried out
  • photographs of the management undertaken

The detailed requirements for this option will be tailored to the Higher Tier site. You should discuss and agree these requirements with your adviser.

You can locate the following options and supplements on the same area as this option:

Advice and suggestions for how to carry out this option

The following advice is helpful, but they are not requirements for this item.

Species and features this option can be used for

You can use this option 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
  • areas that have breeding waders but that are not suitable for option GS9 - Management of wet grassland for breeding waders
  • buried historic or archaeological features

What is needed

The management of land under this option can be very varied, but it is likely to need:

Further information

See the Higher Tier manual to find out more about the scheme and how to apply.

Published 2 April 2015
Last updated 28 July 2020 + show all updates
  1. Same bullet as below also updated to standardise soil testing information.

  2. Under heading “Keeping records”, bullet about soil analysis corrected to remove “… including analysis of organic matter by loss on ignition.”

  3. The Keeping records section has been updated

  4. Updated for 2017 applications.

  5. Information updated for applications in 2016.

  6. First published.