Field margin on a farm© Tim Scrivener

The Countryside Stewardship Scheme manual is set to be revised for the 14th time since the end of June and a month after the application window closed.

Farmers have complained that constant updates to the guidance notes are one of the big reasons they chose not to apply to the news CSS this year.

Six versions of the document were published on Defra’s website in July alone.

See also: Countryside Stewardship scheme not ‘fit for purpose’

NFU countryside adviser Claire Robinson said she had been told the guidance notes had to change again as previous versions had not included any information on how people should measure their options.

“It’s really fundamental stuff, such as where do I measure a margin from,” she said. “That information isn’t in the guidance anywhere, but it is needed by agreement holders.”

Ms Robinson said she was lobbying for a paper version of the final guidance booklet to be sent out to farmers, along with the copies of their agreements.

“This will be the manual that applies to agreements from 1 January. I believe they should be sent to agreement holders because it forms part of the agreement.”

A Natural England spokesperson said: “We have worked closely with stakeholders to ensure guidance has been made available as soon as possible to help with the application process, as well as simplifying the evidence requirements such as the use of photographs and being able to use existing farm records.

“To help farmers – particularly in this first year of the scheme – a number of changes have been made to how records and other evidence need to be provided.  We have notified farmers of these to help with the process and updated the guidance.”