Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) and Organic ELS (OELS) have a large range of management options to choose from and this can seem daunting at first. Choosing the right combination of options and locating them in the right places on your land can make a huge difference to the environmental outcomes you can achieve and also complement your farming system.
This webpage will help you choose the most suitable ELS and OELS options for your farm and put them in the best places. If you would like help with this you could receive a free farm visit from a farming and environmental specialist or attend a local farm event - please contact Natural England on 0300 060 1695 for more information.
We have identified the ELS and OELS options that deliver the most benefit for the environment, and produced maps to show where we want them to be used more frequently. Increasing the uptake of these options in the right areas will make ELS and OELS much more effective at delivering improvements to the environment. Choosing priority options can also contribute towards the Campaign for the Farmed Environment.
The priority options are listed in this document: (151kb).
The priority options are grouped according to the particular environmental benefits that they can help achieve. More information is provided in the fourth edition ELS Handbook and OELS Handbook at Section 2 (Environmental Objectives). Guidance is provided on the best options for each species group (birds, wildlife and rare plants) and/or environmental objective (soil, water, historic environment or landscape); together with information on how you can have a positive impact by implementing these options.
Select your region from the map at the bottom of this page to view priority options in your area.
The proportion of priority options in agreements is being used to gauge the quality and effectiveness of ELS and OELS. We recommend that in order to maximise the environmental benefits of your agreement, wherever possible, at least 65% of the points on your ELS/OELS agreement (or the ELS/OELS element of your HLS agreement) are obtained from the above Priority Options list.
Support is available to ELS and OELS customers to help identify the most suitable ELS or OELS options for an individual farm and where best to locate them.
If an HLS application is submitted with less than 65% of their ELS or OELS points coming from the Priority Options lists we are very likely to ask the agent/applicant to 're-work' the ELS/OELS options. This could cause delays to the agreement start date (and possible delays to subsequent payment dates).
This table: (172kb) lists the low priority options together with some suggested alternative (high priority) options.
We do not normally expect to amend an agreement more than once during its 5 year term. However, if you wish to improve the environmental performance of your existing ELS/OELS agreement by amending your option selection you can do so without impacting on your ability to make further changes to your agreement in the future. This type of change will only be permitted if the following criteria are met:
The change should reduce the presence of low-priority options in the agreement. The ELS/OELS points released by the removal of low-priority options: (172kb) should be replaced by the addition of an equivalent value of high-priority options. Requests that seek to maintain the existing (or increase) the presence of low-priority options will be rejected.
Your ELS/OELS agreement should have at least two years left before it expires. This will allow time for the new options to establish and have a positive impact on the environment.
Additional options must be taken from the same version of the handbook that was used when the agreement was drawn up. For example, agreements drawn up under version 3 cannot contain options taken from version 1 or 2 of the scheme handbook. The exception is four new options introduced in 2013 which are available to existing agreements started on 1st February 2007 or later (under versions 1, 2 and 3 of the scheme handbook). Please see the following supplements for more information on including these new options:
For details of the environmental priorities in your region, please click on the relevant section of the map below.