The aims of the stewardship scheme are to improve water quality and prevent soil erosion. Improve conditions for farmland wildlife, including birds, mammals and pollinating insects. Maintaining and enhancing landscape character such as field boundaries, and protecting the historic environment.
The protection and improvement practices mentioned above can easily be achieved through careful management such as the sowing of buffer strips. These can be sown along the edges of waterways or in the corners of awkward fields. Or, the creation of beetle banks to provide habitat for ground nesting birds.
The mixes recommended for the stewardship scheme are a variety of tall tussocky grasses designed to create an environment which is appealing to a range of insects, birds and mammals. A wide selection of wildflowers and clovers can be added to the mixes to increase the appeal to pollinating insects and improve the nitrogen fixing properties of the soil.
The Stewardship Scheme has 3 levels:
Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) - Whole farm scheme open to all (5 year tenure)
Organic Entry Level Stewardship (OELS) - Whole farm scheme open to all organic farmers who manage all or part of their land organically (5 year tenure)
Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) - Combine with the above but will be discretionary and will concentrate on complex management requirements (10 year tenure)
There is a wide variety of different mixures for buffer strips, beetle banks and under-sowing cereals etc. We have tried to keep the options as simple as we can.
Please check that your stewardship scheme is not overlapping with the following:
The Single Payment scheme cross compliance requirement not to cultivate land within 2m of the centre of a hedgerow or watercourse (and within 1m of the top of the bank of a watercourse)
Any other buffer strips or uncultivated strips required under other ELS options, such as ELS options for field boundaries, trees and woodland
Public rights of way (e.g. footpaths or bridleways) along field edges