New Entry Level Stewardship options from January 2013
Beth Cooper, Agrii Consultancy Services
There are proposed changes that will affect ELS agreements starting from 1st January 2013. These have been made to improve the environmental outcomes of the scheme. Changes include reduction in points for some existing options such as hedgerow management and buffer strips as well as a reduction in points for the compulsory Farm Environment Record. Amendments have also been made to ease the management for some existing options. There is also a proposal for 5 new options to be added to the scheme.
We are awaiting approval by the European Commission for these new ELS options but here is some information on two that we could see in the fourth edition of the ELS handbook. A new option proposed is ‘supplementary feeding for farmland birds’ between 1st January and 31st March to keep these bird populations fed during winter months. The proposed points for this option are 630 per tonne. The food must be a mixture of wheat and oilseed rape (75%), red millet, white millet and canary seed (25%). The grain should be spread once a week during this period on designated feeding sites.
‘Small-scale hedgerow restoration’ is another proposed option that is valued at 10 points per metre. This aims to encourage the development of well established and continuous hedges to link up habitats. Restoration includes hedge laying and gapping up with new hedge plants. For this option you make an annual commitment of hedge length restoration. For example, if you enter 20 metres of hedge for this option on your application form, this is a commitment to restore 20 metres annually for the 5 year agreement, in total restoring 100 metres of hedge. Other proposed options include; supplement to add wildflowers to buffer strips and field corners on cultivated land; Ryegrass seed set as winter and spring food for birds; and Legume and herb-rich swards.
If you would like further advice on the ELS changes or if you would like help in applying for a new or renewal agreement please contact Beth on 07545 927474 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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