Natural England - Organic Entry Level Stewardship

Organic Entry Level Stewardship

Organic Entry Level Stewardship (OELS) is open to all farmers, including those in the uplands, who manage all or part of their land organically, to deliver simple yet effective environmental management. OELS agreements are for 5 years.

Organic ELS closed for new 2013 applications on 1 September 2013. The OELS scheme will be open for applications in 2014. Please see the Transition page for more details.

Quick link to how to get registered and apply.

All relevant OELS Handbooks

Changes from 1 January 2013
The Making Environmental Stewardship More Effective (MESME) webpage provides details on new ELS options which will be available from 1 January 2013. There will also be changes to some existing ELS option prescriptions and points values from 1 January 2013. The new options and changes have yet to receive formal EU Commission approval.

Key information

Before you make an application, the land you want to put into OELS must be registered as ‘fully organic’ or ‘in conversion to organic farming’ with an Organic Inspection Body. (Copies of your valid certificates of registration and accompanying schedules must be submitted with your application).

As with ELS, you will receive a fixed payment – of £60 per ha, per year – for all organic land you enter into the scheme. In return for these payments, you will be required to deliver 60 points worth of management options, per ha of your organic land.

Aid for converting conventionally farmed improved land and established top-fruit orchards to organic farming is also available through OELS at rates of £175 per hectare per year for the first two years of the OELS agreement on improved land.

The OELS points are calculated in two ways:

  • You will automatically receive 30 points per ha for the organic land you enter into the scheme, to reflect the inherent environmental benefits delivered through organic farming.

  • The remaining 30 points will be made up from your chosen management options.

Please note that organic land in parcels of 15ha or more, within the Moorland Line is NOT eligible for OELS – it must be in ELS, for which the payment rate is £8 per ha per year. 

For example:
A 100 ha lowland holding would need 6,000 (60 x 100) points to qualify for OELS, and would receive an annual payment of £6,000. You could achieve those 6,000 points in many ways. (See table below)

Option descriptionPoints availableMeasurementYour points
Automatic points achieved for organic land30 points per ha100 ha3,000
Enhanced hedgerow management42 per 100m500m210
Permanent grassland with low inputs115 per ha8 ha920
Stonewall protection and maintenance15 per 100m8 ha120
Management of field corners500 per ha1 ha500
Wild bird seed mixture550 per ha1.5 ha825
4m buffer strips on intensive grassland500 per ha1.5 ha750
Skylark plots5 per plot18 plots90
Total6,415

For full details of options available in OELS please see the OELS handbook.