Countryside Stewardship Opens for 2020 applications

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The 2020 Countryside Stewardship Scheme application window has opened today (Tuesday 11th February). Mid Tier will remain open for applications until 31st July, including the four simplified Wildlife Offers, and Capital Only grants for improving water quality. Hedgerows and Boundaries grants are also available again this year, with an earlier closing date for applications of 1st May.

Countryside Stewardship Opens for 2020 applications

The RPA have also provided new information on the transition from Countryside Stewardship to the Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme, which will be in place from 2024. When the ELM scheme comes into place, Countryside Stewardship Scheme holders will be able to apply for ELM. Successful applicants to ELM will be able to terminate their Countryside Stewardship agreements early, without penalty, to join the ELM scheme.

Making Countryside Stewardship a success on your farm starts right at the beginning with a well thought out application. Here we share our top tips for making Countryside Stewardship work for you.

Tailor your application to your system.

Take time to understand the detailed requirements of all the options you have selected before applying. Make sure it will be practical to fulfil all requirements without negatively impacting on the wider business. Think about factors such as labour availability, cultivation timings and weed pressures. Choose options which complement your current activities rather than conflicting with them.

Take advantage of your underperforming areas.

Every farm has areas which struggle to perform – a wet patch, a difficult field or an awkward corner. Placing stewardship options on these areas means they can contribute a reliable source of income while allowing you to focus on optimising performance on the better areas of your farm. Do bear in mind however that options such as flower mixes may struggle in areas with poor crop performance, and be sure to choose options which will tolerate the conditions.

Work towards local priorities

The countryside is divided into National Character Areas, which each have local priorities relating to issues such as biodiversity, water quality and landscape. By choosing options which work towards your local priorities, your application will be considered more competitive, and therefore more likely to receive funding. You will also be doing your bit to protect the important species and unique character of your local area, leaving the countryside in a better state for future generations.

Find out more

The deadline to request an application pack for Mid Tier is 31st May for applications made by phone or email, or 30th June for applications made online. If you would like advice or support on making an application to this year’s scheme, please contact Zoe Morgan via email or call +44 (0)7771 676615.

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