We are testing a new beta website for gov.scot go to new site

Cropped Machair

Option closed to new applications


This Option supports the traditional cropping of previously cultivated machair land.

What this will achieve

Traditional cropping will enhance biodiversity in an important habitat and provide feeding and breeding grounds for birds. It will encourage a range of annual plants to grow and flower as the area reverts to natural grassland.

Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) species that may benefit include Corncrake, Skylark, Corn Bunting, Northern Colletes Bee and Great Yellow Bumblebee.

What you can do


  • The site must be included in an arable rotation, comprise at least 15% of the ploughable area of the machair and be sown to an arable crop or left fallow.
  • You must sow part of the ploughable machair area to an arable crop in the year following approval of your contract or one year after that.
  • An area managed under this option may be sown to an arable crop for up to two consecutive years.
  • After the second arable crop has been harvested, the site must be left fallow to revert to natural grassland for a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 3 years.
  • You can only undertake any cultivations or rolling between 1 March and 15 May inclusive.
  • Do not exceed a cultivation depth of 150mm (6").
  • In areas that are particularly vulnerable to erosion, an Outcome Plan with Specialist advice may be supported to help identify sites that require specific cultivation methods.
  • Where ploughing is undertaken with a shallow plough and does not exceed a depth of 100mm (4") you will receive a premium payment.
  • You are encouraged to apply seaweed and farmyard manure in accordance with traditional practice. You will receive a premium payment for this.
  • An area of land on the eligible machair can only be considered for management under this option if it is brought into the required crop/fallow rotation in the first, second or third year of participation in the Scheme, by the sowing of a spring crop and has been subject to cultivation within the last 10 years.
  • A supplementary payment is available if a cereal crop is harvested by binder and the stooks gathered into stacks.
  • If the area has been managed as cropped machair under a previous ("legacy") agri-environment scheme, annual payments will be made in arrears across the whole area of cropped machair (whether in crop or lying fallow) from the first year. This is because the area was brought into the required crop/fallow rotation under the legacy agri-environment scheme.
  • Do not apply pesticides to the managed area except with the prior written agreement of Scottish Ministers. Only selective activities such as spot treatment of scheduled weeds (i.e. creeping, spear or field thistle, curled or broadleaved dock and common ragwort) or non-native invasive species (i.e. Giant hogweed, Himalayan balsam, Rhododendron ponticum or Japanese knotweed) will be considered.

Who can apply

All land managers are eligible to apply for this Option.

Eligibility criteria

This Option is available on machair which has been cultivated within the last 10 years and is sown to an arable crop or left fallow.

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 for:

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 two 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 from a single source then we would accept one quote. In such cases we will verify the goods are uniquely available from a single source and may identify other suitable suppliers to you for a comparative quote. Please see the guidance on quotes and estimates for more information.

Rate of support

This is a 5 year commitment. We will pay at the end of each year.

The management payment on an eligible area begins in the year that this area is first sown to a spring arable crop. The appropriate payment rate will then apply for the balance of the term of the contract. The same payment rate will apply in both arable cropping and fallow years. Please see an illustration of the crop/fallow rotation.

Land must be entered under one of the two payment rates below:

Payment rate:

£233 per hectare per year (without farmyard manure/seaweed)

£279 per hectare per year (with farmyard manure/seaweed)

You can also claim a supplement of £222 per hectare per year if you are harvesting the arable crop by binder and gathering stooks into stacks. Again, you are eligible to claim this supplement from the first year of arable cropping on the area and in each of the remaining years in the contract, whether in arable crop or left fallow.

You can also claim a supplement of £31 per hectare if all of the ploughing is undertaken with a shallow plough, to a depth not exceeding 100mm (4"). Additionally if this requirement is met and the shallow plough equipment is shared, there is a further supplement of £41 per participant per year.


The inspector will check 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, 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:

  • Cropping records to make sure Machair has been cultivated within the last 10 years.
  • At least 15% of the ploughable area of the Machair is sown to a spring crop or left fallow.
  • The cropped area of Machair is left fallow for 2 - 3 years after cropping.
  • Cultivation depth does not exceed 150 mm or 100 mm when using a shallow plough
  • Evidence that cultivation or rolling is only between 1 March and 15 May inclusive.
  • Pesticide records to ensure pesticides have not been applied to the site without prior written approval from Scottish Ministers
  • Evidence of binder/stooks if supplement claimed
  • Evidence of applications of seaweed or FYM if supplement claimed
  • Claimed capital items have been completed to approved amounts and scheme standards



List of links to relevant technical guidance