Farmers have just days left to submit a request for a Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS) mid-tier application pack which is needed if they want to apply for an agreement starting on 1 January 2020.
Although applicants have until 31 July in which to submit a mid-tier CSS application, they can only do so if they have requested an application pack by 31 May 2019.
Requesting an application pack is easy as they can be downloaded through the online Rural Payments Service, or farmers can request to receive an application pack in the post by contacting the Rural Payments Agency (RPA).
There is no obligation to put in a full application once it has been requested, but getting hold of a pack now does keep it open as an option.
The mid-tier Countryside Stewardship Scheme offers payments to farmers for looking after their land in a way that enhances the environment – by conserving and improving biodiversity, reducing flood risk and protecting soil and water quality.
It is an excellent opportunity for landowners to apply for grant funding for capital items such as planting new hedgerows or erecting livestock fencing to protect environmental features or prevent water pollution.
Farmers might also want to consider applying for options such as a two-year legume fallow (AB15) or enhanced overwinter stubble (AB6) as an alternative to break crops like oilseed rape or field beans, given they are becoming increasingly difficult to make a margin.
Signing up to an agri-environment scheme now means landowners can lock into an income stream until 2025, which will be helpful as BPS payments start to be phased out from 2021.
For more information about the Countryside Stewardship Scheme contact a member of the Farming Department.