MID-TIER CSS - DEADLINE TO REQUEST APPLICATION PACKS FOR 2022 SCHEME YEAR

Mid-Tier CSS – Deadline to Request Application Packs For 2022 Scheme Year

Edward Hutley

Edward Hutley

Jun, 27 2021

As we approach the 2021 Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS) application deadline, many farmers and landowners are weighing up the options available to them for the management of their farmed and environmental land going forward, and in advance of the planned roll out of the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) in 2024. Six years since its introduction in 2015, the first CSS agreements created have come to an end with some farmers opting for the one year extension whilst others are renewing for a further 5 year term.

Those farmers and landowners with agreements expiring this year, have been offered a mirror agreement which is effectively the opportunity to roll their existing agreement over into a new agreement with no changes. Whilst this may not suit everyone, it does simplify the process for some.

For those who are yet to embrace CSS, they do have the ability to help bridge some of the income gap between the first BPS reductions this year and the roll out of the SFI under the Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS).

CSS options can provide many different benefits to farmers including:

  • improve the environment and biodiversity of a farm;
  • replace marginable crops within the wider rotation;
  • support diversification projects such as game shoots; and
  • help improve soil quality and protect watercourses.

If income is your biggest driver looking at a gross margin of £563 for an AB9 Winter Bird Food plot with minimal inputs against a gross margin of £548 for a sugar beet crop where the yield expectation for the farm is around 60 tonnes/hectare but, in a year like the one we have just experienced, could be widely affected by many factors, may help with some farmer’s decision making.  If, however, your 5 year goal is to move towards a more regenerative farming approach, options such as winter cover crops or the 2 year sown legume fallow can help to start improving soils, whilst capital options such as fencing, hardcore tracks and livestock troughs can help with the introduction of livestock.

The reduction of BPS has encouraged farmers to review their farming businesses. Previously, farmers wanted to introduce smaller areas of CSS to manage income and improve biodiversity but now we are seeing increased areas of options fitting into the rotation. For example, the AB15 2 year sown legume fallow is now often regarded as a “crop” which can provide a more stable income and good blackgrass control. This is a significant change in mindset from previous environmental agreements and presents greater opportunities for both landowners and contractors alike.

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