HS3: Reduced-depth, non-inversion cultivation on historic and archaeological features

Find out about eligibility and requirements for the reduced-depth, non-inversion cultivation on historic and archaeological features option.

How much will be paid

£79 per hectare (ha).

Where to use this option

Available for Mid Tier and Higher Tier

  • in Mid Tier this option can only be used on Scheduled Monuments on arable land or temporary grassland
  • in Mid Tier this option can only be used with the written approval of Historic England as confirmed on your Historic Environment FER (HEFER) consultation response
  • in Higher Tier this option can be used on Scheduled Monuments where approved by Historic England and on historic or archaeological features identified in your HEFER.

Where this option cannot be used

  • where historic or archaeological earthworks are known to survive
  • where soil movement or loss has been identified as a problem

How this option will benefit the environment

It reduces damage to historic and archaeological features under cultivation by using non-inversion (minimum tillage) machinery and shallower cultivation depths.

Protecting historic and archaeological features will conserve the historic character of the farm and protect England’s heritage for future generations. This option may also maintain and conserve landscape character.

If successful there will be a soil surface with no evidence of:

  • erosion
  • subsoil (which indicates a deeper cultivation depth)
  • freshly disturbed archaeological remains, such as pottery, burnt flint, flint tools, animal and human bone and building stone and tile


  • use non-inversion (minimum tillage) machinery to reduce cultivation depths
  • make sure that vehicle or stock access routes are at least 6m away from the feature (existing surfaced tracks can be used)
  • agree with Natural England in writing all drainage works, including modification to existing drainage, before any works take place
  • ensure that the following field operations do not go deeper than 15cm:
    • tillage
    • soil management
    • planting
    • harvesting

Do not:

  • grow the following crops on the option area:
    • maize
    • lucerne
    • root and tuber crops, (excluding non-harvestable root crops such as grazed fodder beet and forage turnips)
    • short rotation coppice
    • miscanthus

Keeping records

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

  • field operations at the parcel level, including associated invoices
  • consents or permissions connected with this work

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 evidence:

  • photographs of the management undertaken

All applicants must submit the following with the application.

  • land drainage maps
  • a map of existing tracks
  • written approval for the use of the option from Historic England

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.

Where earthworks survive, applicants should use HS9 Restricted depth crop establishment to protect archaeology under an arable rotation.

Reduce cultivation depth and compaction

Cultivation depth can be reduced by:

  • raising the height of the chisel
  • using depth control chains or gauges
  • using a GPS depth controller
  • increasing the number of discs (14 discs for a 3m width instead of the usual 9)
  • using depth wheels with parallelogram mounting

Compaction can be reduced by:

  • not working in wet soil conditions
  • reducing tyre pressure on vehicles travelling on the site to spread the load more evenly

Further information

The following Historic England guide may be of use:

See the Mid Tier manual or 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.