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Grazed Grassland for Chough

Option closed to new applications

Introduction

The aim of this Option is to support the management of grazing land to benefit Chough by providing conditions that are essential for them to breed successfully.

Chough feed almost exclusively on invertebrates that are found in the soil and in animal dung. At key times of year Chough must have access to a supply of dung from livestock that have not been treated with Avermectin based products. This Option supports grazing management using stock that have not been treated with Avermectin based products.

Optimum conditions during chick-rearing (to late June) are where there are both early-cut silage and permanently grazed grassland. At fledging time, from mid-June onwards silage aftermaths (grass stubble) are used for foraging, especially in areas close to nest sites and  communal roosts traditionally used by family groups and fledglings.

This Option provides Chough with grazed pasture suitable for foraging throughout the year. Fields close to communal roosts and nest sites traditionally used by family groups and fledglings will give best results.

This Option can also provide early-cut silage aftermath for juvenile birds to forage in. Fields within a 1 km radius of nest sites will give best results.

Hay and silage crops are especially beneficial where cutting dates are staggered between mid-June and the end of July to extend the period when a freshly cut crop is available. Whilst you can take an early cut of silage through this Option, later cuts of silage or hay are supported through the Mown Grassland for Corncrakes and Chough Option.

Applications that can demonstrate a range of cutting dates in the local area will benefit Chough the most.

The pasture that is grazed during the rest of the year will provide important foraging opportunities for adult birds.

What this will achieve

This Option supports targeted management of grasslands to benefit Chough. A number of Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) species including Skylark, Lapwing and Brown Hare may also benefit. Curlew may also benefit.

What you can do

Requirements

  • You must agree a grazing plan with Scottish Ministers that describes your farm livestock management and grazing regime taking into account the conditions of your site and your farming operations. The grazing plan must describe the supplementary feeding methods for the livestock including the feeding locations. It must describe how feeding will be carried out to ensure that livestock will graze the whole unit and maintain an open sward on the site.
  • You must graze the site by cattle and/or sheep throughout the year or during specific periods identified in the grazing plan.
  • You must manage the sward to create a variable sward height of more than 1 cm and less than 13 cm, except where the field is closed off for silage production when the sward height can exceed 13 cm. The sward can include areas of sparse vegetation.
  • You must agree the timing of any grazing breaks with Scottish Ministers before you take them. Grazing breaks must not allow the sward height to exceed 13 cm and the ground surface must remain visible and not be obscured by a build up of matted vegetation.
  • You can not treat your livestock with Avermectin based drugs unless advised by a veterinary surgeon and with prior written agreement from Scottish Ministers
  • You can take an early cut of silage provided the cutting date is no later than 30 June
  • To minimise the risk of injury to ground nesting birds, you must cut hay and silage in a wildlife friendly manner driving birds and animals towards temporary cover (for example, cutting from the centre of the field towards cover at the field edges or working from the field edge towards cover at its centre).

 

  • You must not apply pesticides except with prior written agreement of the Scottish Ministers for activities such as spot treatment of injurious weeds or control of invasive non-native species
  • The same field need not be chosen each year, but you must provide details at the application stage of the fields included in the rotation, their locations and areas. If, during the lifetime of your plan you agree a different rotation to that originally approved, the area upon which the annual management payment is calculated will be restricted to either the originally approved area or the revised area, whichever is smaller.

Who can apply

All land managers are eligible to apply for this Option.

Eligibility criteria

This Option is available in the Argyll Islands and in Wigtownshire.

The land must be subject to year round or seasonal grazing.

This Option is available on in-bye rotational grassland, on permanent grassland, coastal grassland and heath on free draining or sandy soils. For example, areas of short cropped, or early cut grassland are eligible. Areas of wetland, flushes or bog are not eligible.

This Option is not restricted to in-bye land.

Land receiving payments for similar management under other agri-environment schemes is not eligible under this Option.

Please see the Definitions of Land Types page for more details.

What costs could be supported

For a comprehensive list of Capital Items click here. Any cost claimed must be fully justified. The following are examples of what may be claimed:

When completing your Proposal, you can select the appropriate capital item(s) from the dropdown list of standard cost capital items for this Option.

In addition to the above capital items, financial support of up to 100% of eligible actual costs is available in respect of the following:

Please note that these capital items will not appear in the dropdown list of Standard Cost capital items for this Option and will need to be entered manually in the box for Actual Cost capital items. Only costs for the types of capital works listed above should be entered in the Actual Cost capital items box for this Option. Any other costs entered cannot be considered for funding.

To ensure value for money we require you to provide 2 competitive quotes for any capital items applied for which are based on actual cost. If, however, you are seeking grant support towards something so specialised it is only available through 1 source then we would accept 1 quote. Please see the guidance on quotes and estimates for more information.

Rate of support

This is a 5-year commitment. We will pay you £93.72 per hectare each year. We will pay at the end of each year.

Inspections/verification

The inspector will check that the requirements (as detailed above under 'what you can do') of the Option are being met, by a visual assessment on the day of inspection.

Beneficiaries must comply with the requirements of cross compliance and the minimum requirements for fertiliser and plant protection products. You must also comply with the requirements to avoid damaging any features of historic or archaeological interest, and follow Scottish Ministers' guidance for the protection of such areas or features (detailed in links below).

The following is a brief overview of the inspection procedures, for a full explanation please see links below:

Inspectors will check:

  • Compliance with your prepared grazing plan
  • When the sward is grazed, it's height is between 1 cm and 13 cm high, and the ground surface is visible
  • Field is not cut after 30 June
  • Where the field is mown, mowing is undertaken in a wildlife friendly manner
  • Stock health records demonstrate that stock have not been treated with Avermectin based products unless with prior agreement from Scottish Ministers
  • Pesticide records to ensure pesticides have not been applied to the site except with prior written agreement of the Scottish Ministers
  • Claimed capital items have been completed to approved amounts and scheme standards

List of links to relevant technical guidance

For guidance on how to measure sward heights see Guidance on ideal sward heights for species-rich grassland.

Minimum requirements for Fertiliser and Plant Protection Products - detailed guidance

Minimum requirements for protection of historic or archaeological features

'On the spot' inspections - overview of the inspection procedure