Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) Handbook 2013 (NE349)
EE7 Buffering in-field ponds in improved permanent grassland
EE8 Buffering in-field ponds in arable land
400 points per ha
400 points per ha

Area Constraints apply to these options.

To maintain their value to wildlife, the water quality of ponds needs to be protected. In areas of improved grassland management and on arable land, the creation of unfertilised grass buffers around in-field ponds will help to protect them from nutrient leaching and run-off and will provide additional habitat for pond wildlife. Buffers will be less effective where field drains discharge directly into the pond. The buffer areas may be designed to link two nearby ponds or to link ponds to copses or other boundary features.

These options are only available on grassland that is currently receiving over 50 kg/nitrogen per ha (EE7) or on arable land (EE8).

Figure 5 – Buffering in-field ponds

For these options, you must comply with the following:

  • Buffer areas should be no more than 0.5 ha, although areas can be linked where there are several ponds in a field.
  • Buffer areas must extend at least 10 m between the pond edge and the intensively managed part of the field within which it lies.
  • On arable or rotational land, establish buffer areas during the first 12 months of your agreement, either by sowing or, ideally, by natural regeneration. Remove any compaction in the topsoil if you need to prepare a seedbed, except on archaeological features. Regular cutting in the first 12–24 months may be needed to control annual weeds and encourage grasses to tiller. Avoid cutting when the soil is moist to prevent further compaction.
  • After establishment, cut no more than once every 5 years to allow the development of tussocky grass and low scrub. Do not cut between 1 March and 31 August. Do not allow scrub to develop on archaeological features.
  • You may allow some scrub to develop, but this must be around less than half of the pond margin.
  • Do not apply any fertilisers or manures.
  • 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).
  • Where the field is grazed, limit livestock access so that less than half of the pond edge is poached.
  • Do not use buffer areas for regular vehicular access, turning or storage. There should be no tracks, compacted areas or poaching.

Please note that any areas containing scrub may become ineligible for SPS payments, and would have to be removed from your SPS claim form. Please refer to the SPS Handbook and any supplements for more information, details in Appendix 2. Scrub areas are still eligible for ELS points. Please see Appendix 6 for a definition of scrub for SPS purposes.

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