Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) Handbook 2010 (NE226)
K    Options for grassland outside the Severely Disadvantaged Areas (SDAs)

These options are designed to manage grassland in a way that benefits wildlife and landscape, protects archaeological features and reduces impacts on natural resources.

Grassland should be managed in a way that promotes good soil structure and infiltration of rainwater to reduce run-off. Good general management includes managing livestock densities to avoid soil compaction, or reducing or avoiding grazing when the soil is wet. You may also consider reducing existing compaction, for example by sub-soiling or spiking, provided there are no buried earthworks or archaeological remains.

For the purposes of these options, ‘grassland’ is defined as land that is used to grow grasses or other herbaceous forage naturally or through cultivation, and land that has not been subject to cultivation for at least 5 years.

Patches of scrub can add to the structure and wildlife value of grasslands but they should not be allowed to extend across more than 10 per cent of the field or beyond its existing cover where this is greater than 10 per cent. Scrub should not be allowed to develop on archaeological features.

Inter-tidal habitats are not eligible for these options.

EK1    Take field corners out of management
400 points per ha

This option is only available outside SDAs and below the Moorland Line.

The provision of unmanaged areas will increase the biodiversity of the farm. This option must not be located on archaeological features. Although this option is designed for field corners, if you have small areas within the field, which it would be beneficial to take out of production, you may do so. Field corners do not need to be fenced off, provided the prescriptions are met.

This option is only available on improved grassland that is receiving over 50 kg/ha nitrogen per year as organic or inorganic fertilisers.

For this option, you must comply with the following:

  • Patch size must be no more than 0.5 ha. You may have no more than one patch for every 10 ha of land eligible for this option and, as far as possible, patches must be distributed evenly across your farm.
  • Do not apply any fertilisers, manures or lime.
  • Only apply herbicides to spot-treat or weed-wipe for the control of injurious weeds (ie creeping and spear thistles, curled and broad-leaved docks or common ragwort) or invasive non-native species (eg Himalayan balsam, rhododendron or Japanese knotweed).
  • After establishment, cut no more than once every 5 years to allow the development of tussocky grass and low scrub. Do not cut during the bird breeding season (1 March to 31 August).
  • Do not graze.
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