Introductory Level (£27 per hectare) Intermediate Level (£62 per hectare) – All actions in Introductory level plus

1. Manage fields for grazing

Do one of the following: 

  • graze to keep an average sward height of at least 5cm, over at least 75% of the area of grazed pasture during the growing season 
  • graze rotationally, with rest periods 

2. Manage historic features in grassland

In areas with visible features of historic interest, for example ridge and furrow, barrows or deserted villages you must: 

  • maintain permanent grassland 
  • only re-seed by direct drilling or over-sowing  

3. Allow tall vegetation and scrub to develop on 2% of grassland 

  • Take or keep field corners and small areas up to 0.5ha out of grazing and cutting management to allow tall vegetation and scrub to develop. 


1. Same as Introductory level

2. Same as Introductory level

3. Allow tall vegetation and scrub to develop on 5% of grassland (expands on Introductory Level) 

  • this includes the 2% from the introductory level. 

 4. Introduce clover and other legumes on 15% of improved grassland 

This will: 

  • improve soil structure, soil carbon and soil biology 
  • provide habitat for pollinators 
  • reduce fertiliser application 


Advanced Level (£97 per hectare) – All actions in Introductory and Intermediate Levels plus

1. Manage fields for grazing(expands on introductory level) 

Allow wild or sown flowers to flower and produce seed by: 

  • managing grazing to produce a tussocky sward of at least 8cm average height over at least 75% of the area of grazed pasture, during the growing season 
  • delaying cutting until the majority of flowers have reached seeding, in fields cut for forage 

 2. Same as Introductory level

3. Same as Intermediate level

 4. Introduce diverse grass, herb and legumes on 20% of improved grassland (expands on Intermediate level) 

 5. Allow ryegrass to bear seed

  • Allow at least 2% of ryegrass swards (in addition to ungrazed areas) to bear seed through the winter. Where possible, locate them near hedges and semi-natural habitat. 



Introductory Level  Intermediate Level  Advanced Level 
1. Leave margins uncut to encourage flowers and seed

  • In hay and silage fields, leave at least 33% of margins uncut to produce flowers and seed. Aim to distribute the uncut margins around cutting fields (minimum width 2m), rather than locating them all in one area. 


1. Same as Introductory level

2. Control cutting on silage fields

On at least 60% of your silage fields do one of the following: 

  • delay the first cut until the last week of May 
  • leave a period of 8 weeks between the first and second cuts 

1.  Same as Introductory level

2. Same as Intermediate level


Introductory Level  Intermediate Level  Advanced Level 
1. Create buffers around in-field trees

  • maintain a buffer to at least 2m beyond the edge of the canopy to protect the roots 
  • leave mature ivy and low-hanging and fallen, dead or dying branches on the tree or beneath the canopy to provide habitats for wildlife 
  • do not feed livestock within the buffer area 

You’ll be paid £3 per tree. 

You can apply for funding for capital items to protect trees from damage by livestock. 

1. Same as Introductory level


1.  Same as Introductory level


Introductory Level  Intermediate Level 
1. Create and follow a nutrient management plan to:

  • make sure manures and fertilisers you apply meet crop and soil requirements 
  • minimise losses of nutrients to the environment 


1. Same as Introductory level

2. Test your manures and soils

To inform your nutrient planning: 

  • test the nutrient content of slurry and manure 
  • test soils every 3 years or on 30% of land each year 

3. Carry out a whole farm nutrient budget

  • Carry out a whole farm nutrient budget that takes account of inputs from feed, fertiliser and manures outputs in crop and livestock products. 
  • Use your budget to produce an action plan. 

4.  Limit inputs of liquid manures

  • Limit inputs of slurry or other liquid manures to 30m3 per ha in a single application. 
  • Do not increase your application rate if your current rate is less than this. 

5. Use low emission technologies

  • Apply organic manures (slurry, other liquid manures) using low emission technologies (trailing hose and shoe or shallow injection) to grassland. 


Advanced Level 

1. Same as Introductory level

2. Same as Intermediate level

3. Same as Intermediate level

4. Same as Intermediate level

5. Same as Intermediate level

6. Reduce nutrient inputs

  • Reduce nutrient inputs to a maximum of 100 kg per ha total nitrogen from manures, or 50 kg per ha total nitrogen from inorganic fertilizer over at least 5% of the improved grassland area. 

This applies particularly: 

  • in fields that slope to a watercourse and are next to sensitive habitats 
  • where inputs are typically above these levels 

7. Carry out soil mapping

Carry out detailed soil mapping to test nutrient variations within fields, for example P, K, Mg and pH, on either: 

  • 20% of the farmed area each year 
  • the entire farmed area once every 4 years 

8. Use efficient precision application equipment

Use ecient precision application equipment for fertilisers and organic manures. 



Introductory Level  Intermediate and Advanced Levels
N/A 1. Manage your ditches between 1 September and 1 April to minimise disturbance to wildlife 

  • cut no more than half the length of bank vegetation in any year 
  • carry out rotational in-channel management on a rotation of at least 3 years 

You can do in-channel management more regularly if you’ve been told to by a flood management authority. This requirement only applies where the applicant has control over the management of the ditch. Ditches managed by the Environment Agency or an Internal Drainage Board are exempt. 




Eligible land: 

All grassland that meets the definition of improved grassland is eligible for this standard, including: 

  • improved grassland on mixed farms 
  • temporary grassland – land that’s been in grass or other herbaceous forage for five years or less 

To qualify as improved grassland, the sward composition should include at least 2 of the following: 

  • more than 30% cover of rye-grasses and white clover 
  • up to 8 species per m2, including grasses 
  • less than 10% cover of wildflowers and sedges, excluding white clover, creeping buttercup, docks, thistles and ragwort 

Management of the land is likely to include: 

  • regular re-seeding, or within the last 15 years 
  • regular fertilising with typically at least 100 kg per ha of nitrogen as compound fertiliser or animal manures and slurries 
  • boom spraying herbicide to treat weeds 
  • active, well-maintained field drains 
  • taking any conserved forage as silage at least once a year 

Ineligible land 

The following land is ineligible for this standard: 

  • sites of special scientific interest (SSSI) 
  • areas of peat soils greater than 20% soil organic matter to a depth of 40cm or more 

Funding for Capital Items 

Additional standards you can apply to this land 

Land parcels you use for this standard can also be used for the: 


These notes, prepared on the 09.07.2021, are only to be used as a part of a wider discussion/decision-making process undertaken with Townsend Chartered Surveyors also giving accompanying advice. TCS cannot be held responsible for their use other than in this context or for any resulting misunderstanding or damages. As a pilot the payment values and actions required may be subject to change as Defra develops the scheme.