GS6: Management of species-rich grassland

Find out about eligibility and requirements for the management of species-rich grassland option.

How much will be paid

£182 per hectare (ha).

Where to use this option

Available for Higher Tier

Whole and part parcel

Only on grassland priority habitat.

Features that can be included in this option

The following features can be included 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
  • temporary water
  • permanent water less than or equal to 0.1ha, at the discretion of Natural England
  • natural unsurfaced roads, tracks, paths and bridleways (as long as the requirements of the option can still be carried out)
  • 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 and enhance priority grasslands. It will increase the number and frequency of important plant species, with most wildflowers in bloom over the summer. Many other priority species, such as bumblebees, butterflies, birds or bats, will benefit, and buried archaeological features will not be disturbed.


Agreement holders are likely to need to:

  • maintain or increase the presence and abundance of high value plant species
  • maintain a range of plant heights suitable for invertebrates, birds or other priority species
  • manage the grassland by grazing, hay cutting, or a mixture of both
  • maintain a continuous cover, particularly over historic features
  • use very little or no manure, fertiliser, pesticide or supplementary feed
  • maintain scrub, rushes and other potentially dominating plants at the levels set out in your agreement
  • control undesirable plants (these can be specified in the agreement)

The agreement will set out what must not be done. It is likely that agreement holders will not be allowed to:

  • plough, cultivate or re-seed, 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 breeding birds or damage nests

Keeping records

Agreement holders are likely to 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
  • any sites grazed will require a grazing activity record
  • bag returns, if an agreed wildfowl strategy is in place

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 are likely to have to send the following with their application:

  • a standard soil analysis, including analysis of organic matter by loss on ignition
  • a map of the existing drainage system

If there is scrub on the site, send photographs showing the extent of it. Also send photographs showing the extent of scrub or bracken on historic or archaeological features.

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

The following options and supplements can be located on the same area as this option:

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.

For successful management, in most cases the following will be needed:

  • appropriate livestock (which will often be cattle), over which the agreement holder has full control
  • machinery to carry out management requirements such as hay cutting
  • consideration of how best to manage associated features such as ditches and scrub
  • capital works to support this option (e.g. to oversow with additional plant species, use option FM2 - Major preparatory works for priority habitats (creation and restoration) and priority species)

Upland calcareous and other very extensively managed grassland, especially in large parcels, may not be accepted for this option. Such grassland may be eligible for other options, such as GS13 - Management of grassland for target features. 

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