Wildlife Offer Countryside Stewardship agreements provide a simplified scheme option for farmers with a set list of options under each Wildlife Offer type and provided the minimum requirements are met then an agreement will be offered. The aim of Wildlife Offer’s is as the name suggests, to support wildlife by providing sources of nectar and pollen for insect pollinators, winter food for birds and improved habitats.
What are the types of Wildlife Offer?
There are four different Wildlife Offer agreement types which are:
- Arable offer
- Lowland grazing offer
- Mixed farming offer
- Upland offer
Each type of agreement contains options to suit that type of farming system, for example a lowland grazing offer only contains options suitable for grassland.
What options do I choose?
Taking the lowland grazing offer as the example, the scheme will provide three ‘categories’ and options within that category to choose from that will meet the category aim. The lowland grazing offer has three categories:
- Category 1 – Nectar and pollen sources for insect pollinators and insect-rich foraging for birds
- Category 2 – Nesting and shelter for insect pollinators and birds
- Category 3 – Optional additional resources and habitats
Under each category there are a couple of options to choose from. Options must be chosen for Category 1 and 2 but Category 3 is an optional extra to include (but if you do include Category 3 options you will receive a higher payment).
For example, under Category 1 the options to choose from are GS2 Permanent grassland with very low inputs (outside SDA’s) paying £95/ha or GS4 Legume and herb-rich swards (£309/ha). You could choose either option provided that a minimum of 2 ha/100 ha of farmed land included within the agreement is under either of these options. So, if you had 50 ha you were putting into a Lowland Grazing Wildlife Offer agreement if you put in at least 1 ha of GS2 in you would have ticked the box for Category 1. One ha of GS2 would only pay £95 per year so the incentive is to put in more land than the minimum to achieve a better financial return.
This illustrates how the scheme works, there are other options and minimum requirements that must be met for the other categories. Other Wildlife Offers work similarly to this, there are options to choose from and how much you need to include of each option will depend on the area of land you are putting into the agreement.
What sort of options might there be under each Wildlife Offer types?
Without listing all of the options available, an example of what there is to choose from under each option is provided below:
Arable Offers – Nectar flower mix (£511/ha), Flower rich margins and plots (£539/ha), Winter bird food (£640/ha), Two year sown legume fallow (£522/ha), Beetle banks (£573/ha) plus many more.
Lowland Grazing Offers – Management of hedgerows (£8/100m), Permanent grassland with very low inputs (outside SDA’s) (£95/ha), 4m–6m buffer strip on intensive grassland (£170/ha) plus many more.
Mixed Farming Offer – Legume and herb-rich swards (£309/ha), Winter bird mix (£640/ha), Nesting plots for lapwing and curlew (£524/ha), Lenient grazing supplement (£44/ha) plus many more.
Upland Offer – Management of hedgerows (£8/100m), Management of rough grazing for birds (£88/ha), Haymaking supplement (£85/ha). Rush control supplement (£73/ha) and many more.
Many of the options listed above are included as options within the other Offer types so if you are interested about finding out what all of the options are under each Offer type then please do contact us.
How do I know which options to choose?
For Wildlife Offer agreements you must choose at least one option from each Category to be successful, for this reason this option is much simpler than a mid-tier application. Providing the minimum requirements are met the application will be successful and an agreement offered. There also can be the ‘additional’ Category under Wildlife Offers which lets you choose more options and therefore attract a higher payment.
There is still flexibility to site options on areas that may be less productive or to neaten up any awkward field corners.
Do I need to put all of my land in a scheme?
No, unlike previous environmental stewardship schemes you do not need to put your whole farm in an agreement. Instead you can pick and choose fields to put in and are only bound by the agreement on those fields that form the ‘agreement land’.
Are there any restrictions of putting land into a Stewardship scheme?
In addition to meeting the requirements of the specific options, any land that is put into an agreement will be subject to every other year hedgerow cutting.
How much will I be paid?
Each option has a payment rate so you will be paid based on the amount of each option you put into the agreement. Under all Wildlife Offers, there are minimum area requirements that must be met.
What is the difference between Wildlife Offers and Mid-Tier?
Wildlife Offer agreements have fewer options that can be chosen in comparison to Mid-Tier. There is a set list of options to choose from under each offer and farmers must choose some of these options and provide them to their minimum requirements in order to be successful. The payment rates for each option are the same as under Mid-Tier, for example having Winter Bird Food under either agreement will pay £640/ha.
The key differences between the two schemes is that Wildlife Offers are non-competitive, provided you meet the scheme requirements your application will be successful, this is unlike Mid-Tier which is competitive based on how well applications meet the priorities for the area. The other significant difference is that with Wildlife Offers, you cannot include any capital items.
Can I include capital items in a Wildlife Offer agreement?
No, this is often the reason farmers will choose Mid-Tier Countryside Stewardship over Wildlife Offers. Capital works cannot be included within a Wildlife Offer agreement, you must choose from the set list of options only.
New for 2021, you can submit a separate application under the Capital grant scheme which will give you access to capital works. This will however be capped at a maximum of £20,000 for each of the three areas (£60,000 total).
How long do Wildlife Offer Agreements last?
All Wildlife Offer agreements last for 5 years.
What are the key dates and deadlines?
Unlike Mid-Tier Countryside Stewardship there is no need to request an application pack by the 30th June for Wildlife Offers. All applications for Wildlife Offers are made online and can be made up to 30th July 2021, so if you have missed the deadline for requesting a Mid-Tier application pack then Wildlife Offer Stewardship is still available to you.
The start date for successful applications made this year is 1st January 2022.
I’m interested in applying, how can you help?
If you’re located within Gloucestershire, Worcestershire or Herefordshire then please do get in touch with one of our Countryside Stewardship team and we can guide you through the application process including help ensuring you meet the minimum requirements to make a successful Wildlife Offer application as well as preparing and submitting applications on your behalf. To discuss Countryside Stewardship further then please contact Ellen Cottrell or Josh Balsdon either by email (email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org) or on 01684 853400.