BE4: Management of traditional orchards

Find out about eligibility and requirements for the management of traditional orchards option.

How much will be paid

£212 per hectare (ha).

Where to use this option

In Mid Tier this option can only be used with approval from Natural England.

Whole or part-parcel

Only on traditional orchards (apple, pear, cherry, plum, damson or cobnut plats) where at least one-third of the original stations are occupied by trees over 25 years old.

In Mid Tier the orchard must be mapped as a traditional orchard on the Priority Habitat Inventory (see MAGIC)

Features that can be included in this option

The following features can be included if they are part of the parcel, even if they are ineligible for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS).

  • ditches
  • drains
  • dykes
  • rivers and streams (boundary or internal)

The features must be less than 4m wide for the majority of their length in the parcel.

How this option will benefit the environment

If successful there will be a well-managed traditional orchard with a range of healthy young and old trees. This includes established grass, tall bushy hedges, scrub and tall herb vegetation abundant with invertebrates, birds and wildflowers.


  • record the location, species, variety and age class of trees
  • manage grassland by grazing or hay cutting
  • maintain the characteristic tree form by pruning
  • restore tree numbers
  • protect trees from damage by livestock
  • keep and protect all mature and over-mature standing trees
  • keep some standing deadwood and some deadwood on living trees
  • control scrub and invasive species

Do not:

  • plough, cultivate or re-seed
  • roll or harrow
  • apply any fertilisers or manures
  • apply lime
  • supplementary feed

Keeping records

Agreement holders will need to keep the following records and supply them on request:

  • receipted invoices, consents or permissions connected with any work
  • records of all management activity on the option area for each parcel
  • dates and locations of formative or maintenance pruning carried out for each parcel
  • a base map or table showing the location, species, rootstock, variety and age class of trees present in each parcel
  • a monthly record of stock numbers grazing each parcel

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:

  • if managing by hay cutting, photographs of the areas cut and uncut in each parcel
  • photographs of cut areas of scrub

Applicants will have to send the following with their application:

  • a map of existing land drainage in each parcel
  • a photograph of trees entered into the option

These 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.

Traditional orchards

Traditional orchards are defined as groups of fruit and nut trees planted on vigorous rootstocks at low densities in permanent grassland, and managed in a low intensity way. Cobnut plats are included.

Preventing weeds

Prevent weeds from competing with newly planted trees for water and nutrients. Keep a 1m diameter circle clear of all vegetation for at least the first 3 years after planting.

Further information

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

Published 2 April 2015
Last updated 10 March 2017 + show all updates
  1. Updated for 2017 applications.
  2. Information updated for applications in 2016.
  3. First published.