Mid-Tier Countryside Stewardship is very similar to the old style ELS schemes. It is designed to provide environmental benefits at an on-farm level with a range of options that can be tailored to suit most farming systems.
What do Mid-Tier Stewardship schemes fund?
Grant funding is available for land management practices which protect and enhance the natural environment, particularly those that benefit biodiversity and water quality. Funding is split into 2 main areas; annual management options and one off capital items.
What sort of options are there?
With Mid-Tier you can apply for as many or as few options as you like and can include annual revenue options as well as capital options. There are 150+ options to choose from with the most commonly used in our experience being;
- Permanent grassland with very low inputs (£95/ha)
- Management of hedgerows (£8/100 m)
- Winter bird food (£640/ha)
- Overwinter Stubble (£84/ha)
- 4 – 6 m buffer on cultivated land (£353/ha)
- Tree surgery (coppicing) £96.50 – £200/tree
- Fencing – £4.00/m
- Wooden Field Gate – £390/gate
- Planting new hedges £11.60/m
- Concrete yard renewal £27.14/sq. m. (high water quality priority areas only)
- Livestock and machinery hardcore tracks £33/m (high water quality priority areas only
This is just a small selection of options which are available within the grant, the scheme can be tailored to the individual farm and particular areas which would benefit the holding.
How do I know which options to choose?
The options you choose will depend on your specific farm and system, often farmers can be meeting option requirements without realising they could be getting grant funding for doing so. For example, if you already apply very little inputs to your permanent grassland you could apply to be paid £95/ha for doing so with no change to your existing farming practice. With greening being eradicated from 2021, some features could be utilised within a Countryside Stewardship Scheme to strengthen the application and receive further funding. Other options will require changes to meet the scheme requirements however the payment is an incentive for doing so.
There are specific options for grassland and arable farmers so if you are all grassland the arable options won’t apply and vice versa. In addition, there is further eligibility checks to meet for some options for example for water and air quality capital options you need to be located within a high water quality priority area and have endorsement.
Often, options can be chosen after reviewing the farming system and by identifying areas of land that may be less productive and could be taken out and put in a scheme. We can advise on what options may work for you so please do contact us to discuss further.
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 put simply, the more of each option you have then the more you will be paid.
What is the difference between Mid-Tier and Wildlife Offers?
The key differences between the two schemes are:
- Mid-Tier is a competitive application process, however Wildlife Offers are not.
- With Mid-Tier you can include capital items which you cannot with Wildlife Offer agreements.
- Mid-Tier enables more flexibility on how much of each option you choose, with Wildlife Offers you need to put certain %’s of your land into the scheme to be offered a scheme.
What sort of capital options could I include in my Mid-Tier agreement?
Capital options are split into 3 main areas; Boundaries, trees and orchards, Water quality and Air quality. All applicants are eligible for boundaries, trees and orchards options which include fencing, hedging, tree surgery and stone wall restoration. Water and air quality options are be limited to those located within a high priority water quality and include concrete yard renewal, livestock and machinery tracks, roofing over slurry stores, rainwater goods and new for 2021 automatic slurry scrapers and low emission flooring.
Capital options now have maximum funding requests for each section of:
- Boundaries, trees and orchards – £50,000
- Water & air quality – £120,000
How long do Mid-Tier Agreements last?
All Mid-Tier agreements last for 5 years with any capital works included within the agreement needing to be completed and claimed for within the first 2 years.
With ELMS set to be launched fully in 2024, any countryside stewardship agreement starting after the 1st January 2021 will have the capability to be ended early, without penalty, subject to successful entrance into ELMS.
What are the key dates and deadlines?
The deadline for requesting endorsement for water, air and certain high value items is 18th June 2021.
The deadline for requested Mid-Tier application packs is 30th June 2021.
The deadline for submission of Mid-Tier applications is 30th July 2021.
The start date for any successful applications made this year is the 1st January 2022.
I’m interested in applying, how can you help?
If you’re located within the Three Counties then please do get in touch with one of our Countryside Stewardship team and we can guide you through the application process including help choosing suitable options and putting applications together. To discuss Countryside Stewardship further then please contact Ellen Cottrell or Josh Balsdon either by email (firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com) or on 01684 853400