Additional environmental schemes for farmers

Countryside Stewardship

Countryside Stewardship provides incentives for land managers to look after their environment. The scheme is open to all eligible farmers, woodland owners, foresters and other land managers through a competitive application process.

There are three main elements within Countryside Stewardship:

  • Mid Tier: offers agreements for environmental improvements in the wider countryside e.g. reducing diffuse water pollution or improving habitats for farm wildlife;
  • Higher Tier: multi-year agreements for environmentally significant sites, commons and woodlands, where more complex management requires support from Natural England or the Forestry Commission. Management options and capital grants are included; and
  • Capital grants: a range of 1 to 2 year grants for hedgerows and boundaries, improving water quality, developing implementation plans, feasibility studies, woodland creation (establishment), woodland improvement and tree health.

H2OK? and the Voluntary Initiative

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In 2001, the Government accepted proposals put forward by the farming and crop protection industry to minimise the environmental impacts from pesticides. The programme was developed as an alternative to a pesticide tax which had been under consideration by the Government.

By 2006, the programme had met or exceeded the vast majority of its targets. In the light of this, the VI Steering Group proposed to Ministers that The Voluntary Initiative (VI) should continue as a rolling two year programme. These proposals were welcomed by the Government and the VI has continued since as a voluntary programme of work promoting responsible pesticide use.

Nutrient Management Planning

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The Fertiliser Manual (RB209) offers best practice guidance on application of organic materials and manufactured fertilisers to crops and grassland. The guide aims to maximise yields while keeping environmental impacts to a minimum.


Protecting our Water, Soil and Air: A Code of Good Agricultural Practice for farmers, growers and land managers (CoGAP) consolidates and updates the former three separate codes for water, soil and air.

The publication has been produced by technical specialists from Defra and Natural England. It offers practical interpretation of legislation and provides good advice on best practice; ‘good agricultural practice’ can be defined as a practice that minimises the risk of causing pollution while protecting natural resources and allowing economic agriculture to continue.

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