Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) Handbook 2013 (NE349)
EL2 Permanent grassland with low inputs in SDAs 35 points per ha

This option is only available on land inside the SDAs and below the Moorland Line.

Permanent grassland managed with low inputs of fertiliser and sprays will sustain a greater variety of plants and wildlife. The development of a varied sward structure is of particular value to insects. Permanent grassland is an important feature of pastoral landscapes and can help to protect buried archaeological features. This option may deliver benefits to resource protection where placed on fields that are at risk of soil erosion or run-off. This option can be used on a whole or part-field basis.

For this option, you must comply with the following:

  • Maintain as grass. Do not plough, cultivate or re-seed.
  • Manage by grazing and/or cutting, but do not cut between 1 April and 31 May.
  • Maintain a sward with a range of heights during the growing season so that at least 20 per cent of the sward is less than 7 cm and at least 20 per cent is more than 7 cm, to allow plants to flower and to provide a more varied habitat. You do not need to maintain this height variation when the field is closed or shut up for a cut of hay or silage.
  • Do not top at any time, except in patches to control injurious weeds (ie creeping and spear thistles, curled and broad-leaved docks or common ragwort); invasive non-native species (eg Himalayan balsam, rhododendron or Japanese knotweed); bracken or areas dominated by rushes.
  • Where scrub is present, prevent further encroachment by grazing, mowing or topping.
  • Do not harrow or roll between 1 April and 31 May.
  • Supplementary feeding is allowed, but move feeders as often as required to avoid poaching. Do not feed on or next to archaeological features, steep slopes, footpaths or watercourses.
  • Do not apply more than 50 kg/ha nitrogen per year as inorganic fertiliser. Where animal manures are applied, either alone or in addition to inorganic fertiliser, the total rate of nitrogen must not exceed 100 kg/ha nitrogen per year. Only apply during the growing season, provided no birds are nesting in the field, and ground conditions are dry enough to prevent soil compaction. If your current manure and fertiliser regime is less than this, you must not increase applications. You may find it useful to refer to the table in Appendix 3 showing average total nitrogen supplied by various manures.
  • You may continue adding lime where this is your regular practice.
  • 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).

Low input permanent pasture can have a wide range of benefits for biodiversity, archaeology, and resource protection

ADLib logo Content provided by the Agricultural Document Library
© University of Hertfordshire, 2011