In the latest of FWi/ ADAS’s frequently asked questions regarding Environmental Stewardship schemes, ADAS’s David Middleditch provides advice on whether to enter ELS if you already have Countryside Stewardship schemes in place.
If you have any questions on this or any other Environmental Stewardship matter ADAS experts are on hand to answer them in our dedicated forum on stewardship.
Entering ELS while still in Countryside Stewardship
Q: I have a Countryside Stewardship Scheme agreement on my land covering fields of riverside pasture, some arable margins and hedge planting. Can I still enter my farm into ELS?
A: There is a general rule against double funding. This should help to guide you as to which of your fields you may be able to enter in ELS whilst some of your farm is still under a Countryside Stewardship agreement.
So, where the CSS option covers the whole field – such as your riverside pasture – these fields cannot be entered in ELS.
Where a CSS option covers part of the field – such as your arable margins – the field is eligible for ELS, although you cannot select ELS options, e.g. buffer strips, which would cover the same land as the CSS options.
There are plenty of other ELS options you can choose for your arable land. Options include skylark plots, protection of in-field trees, over-wintered stubbles and patches of wild bird seed mixture. The greater the range of options the more species of wildlife will benefit.
As for your hedges; even though these were planted under CSS, they are still eligible for ELS, as this scheme focuses on management options – chiefly on frequency of cutting – designed to benefit wildlife. So, provided that you can fulfil the management requirements stated in the ELS handbook, you can include the hedges.
The rules regarding ELS and CSS are similar for ESA agreements. Page 90 of the ELS handbook gives more information.