Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) Handbook 2013 (NE349)
EL3 Permanent grassland with very low inputs in SDAs 60 points per ha

Permanent pasture with very low inputs of fertiliser and herbicide provides better wildlife habitats


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

Permanent grassland managed with no fertiliser has a higher value for wildlife. Much species-rich grassland has been lost to agricultural intensification and it is important to maintain and, where possible, increase this resource. This option may also 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. If your field has more than a third of its area covered by rushes, it must be entered into option EL4 Management of rush pastures in an SDA, rather than this option.

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, to remove each year’s grass growth, but do not cut between 1 April and 30 June. You must remove any cuttings.
  • 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 30 June.
  • Do not supplementary feed.
  • You may apply up to 12.5 tonnes/ha (5 tonnes/acre) of FYM a year, but only where the grassland is regularly cut. Only apply FYM during the growing season, provided no birds are nesting in the field, and ground conditions are dry enough to prevent soil compaction. No other type of fertilisers or manures may be applied. 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).
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