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Management of Species-Rich Grassland

Option closed to new applications


This Option will enhance species-rich unimproved grassland.

What this will achieve

This Option will encourage the growth and spread of flowering plants and other species in unimproved grassland, which act as a food supply for insects, and a seed source to ensure the continuation of the species.

The Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) species that may benefit include Nightjar, Skylark, Corn Bunting, Marsh Fritillary, Pearl Bordered Fritillary and Great Yellow Bumblebee, Northern Brown Argus and Narrow-bordered Bee Hawkmoth.

What you can do


You must manage your grazing levels to create a sward at a range of heights, including some short grassland and some dense tussocks, in accordance with published guidance . This will suit a wide variety of plants and invertebrates

You must ensure the sward is at its longest in the summer and shorter in the spring and autumn when most grassland species germinate. As a guide, where the sward is grazed, you should aim to maintain sward heights as follows:

  • Neutral and acid grasslands:
    Spring April to May): Allow sward to grow to a height between 5 and 20 cm
    Summer (June to August): Graze to maintain sward height between 5 and 20 cm
    Winter (September to March): Graze to reduce sward height to between 5 and 15 cm.
  • Calcareous grasslands:
    Spring (April to May): Allow sward to grow to a height between 2 and 15 cm
    Summer (June to August): Graze to maintain sward height between 2 and 15 cm
    Winter (September to March): Graze to reduce sward height to between 2 and 10 cm.




Where grazing is not practical, you must cut your grassland once between mid-July and mid-August to a height between 5 and 10 cm, and once again in the autumn or the following spring. A single cut is usually not sufficient to harvest the year's growth, so a second cut is required to mimic the effect of aftermath grazing on a hay meadow. The cuttings must be turned in the field in order to allow their seed to drop and they must then be removed or they will smother the underlying vegetation

In areas where Corn Buntings breed, the site must not be grazed or mown from 16 April until 15 August inclusive The guidance on sward heights given above for spring and summer does not apply to these sites but the guidance on sward heights in winter does apply.

Your application must be accompanied by a grazing plan agreed with Scottish Ministers which sets out a livestock management and grazing regime, limiting and managing grazing in order to promote the growth, structure and species composition of vegetation on the land. The grazing plan should reflect the specific biodiversity requirements of your site and may be subject to change as the site develops. It will identify the grassland communities that will be managed, the area that will be managed, the outcome that will be achieved and how it will be achieved. Evidence to support the management proposed in the grazing plan must accompany the application, e.g. a reference to advisory material produced by a recognised conservation organisation

Do not apply fertilisers, slurry, farmyard manure or lime. Pesticides must not be applied except with the prior written agreement of Scottish Ministers for 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).

Do not use the site for supplementary feeding.

Who can apply

All land managers are eligible to apply for this management Option.

It is restricted to lowland grassland/in-bye.

Eligibility criteria

This option may be adopted on species rich grassland that is found on in-bye land and also on species rich grassland classified as 'lowland grassland', for example: grazed machair. Areas that are dominated by marram, with few or no other plant species, are not 'species rich' and therefore are not eligible for the Management of Species-Rich Grassland Option.

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

Please see Definition of Land Types page for more detail.

What costs could be supported

Support will also be available toward the cost of certain associated Capital Items. 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.

Rate of support

This is a 5-year commitment. We will pay you £111 per year per hectare of land managed under this Option. We will pay at the end of each 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 and the minimum requirements for fertiliser and plant protection products (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:

  • Site is species rich grassland on inbye or lowland grassland (for example: grazed machair)
  • Compliance with agreed grazing plan and supporting evidence
  • Visual check to ensure no fertiliser/ FYM/Slurry has been applied to the site
  • Supplementary feeding has not occurred on the site
  • Claimed capital items have been completed to approved amounts and scheme standards.

List of links to relevant technical guidance