The Payments for Outcomes trial is working with 5 National Trust tenant farmers across the Yorkshire Dales, testing farmer-led assessments to improve soil and pollinator health on in bye land, as well as looking at pollinator habitats and connectivity across the whole farm. Farmers undertake the assessments with the help of an adviser and receive an annual payment based on the results. They are offered advice on how they can increase their scores, and therefore increase their payments, in future years by changing management practises or accessing funding for capital works.
We are working collaboratively with the Yorkshire Dales National
Park Authority, who are providing technical advice based on their experiences managing the Payments by Results pilot in Wensleydale.
Buglife and Leeds University have provided invaluable guidance on the pollinator assessments, and iCASP (Yorkshire Integrated Catchment Solutions Programme) fund a workstream within the project to incorporate natural flood management into the PfO approach.
Location of the schemeone region
Areas of: Upper Wharfedale, Swaledale, Wenselydale, Malham Tarn and the Forest of Bowland within the Yorkshire Dales
Duration of the schemeSince: January 2017
Until: December 2022
Objective(s) of the scheme / project
Which habitats or species are in the focus of the scheme / project?
- Habitats (incl. habitats of Fauna-Flora-Habitat-Directive (FFH-D.))
- Species (incl. species of FFH-D. and Birds Directive (BD))
- Improvements in habitat condition - the target farm tenants have agreed areas of tree/shrub establishment and we expect environmental improvements to be continued and extended e.g. resulting in a greater diversity in vegetation structure, with a mixture of closer grazed areas interspersed with areas of tall grasses and herbs and an increase in shrubs and trees. Low productivity of the uplands means that nature responds relatively slowly to changes in management. But the desired low input grazing is designed to stimulate natural processes, which should result in relatively greater environmental change occurring in the medium to long term.
Design of scheme / project
- Pure Result Based Payments
Using the outcome measures for nine habitats, first developed by Helen Keep, Senior Farm Adviser at Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, our property ecologist, Frances Graham, has designed practical assessments. These have been tested in the field by our farm tenants, with the help and support of our property rangers, across 163 fixed quadrats. The accuracy and objectivity of the assessments have been monitored. The tenants and rangers have completed an evaluation to gauge whether this new way of working is developing their skills, knowledge and interest in environmental management, whether the assessments are user-friendly and whether this approach is building a better working relationship. Initial analysis of questionnaire responses and anecdotal feedback from tenants and rangers does indicate that the tenants are learning new skills; that the assessment measures are robust; and that relationships are strengthening between tenants and rangers.
By which fund(s) is the scheme / project implemented?
- National governmental financing
How are the incentives (payment levels) calculated?
- Based on the costs of management actions
The better the outcomes on the ground, the higher the payments. There are 4 payment bands for soil health and 5 for pollinator health. The lowest band covers the farmer’s time only and the highest is based on an income forgone calculation for achieving the optimum. Pollinator connectivity is rewarded by a bonus payment.
Is there a top up in case of reaching the goals?
How many hectares are in the scheme (year 2020)?
- 100 – 500
How many farmers take part in the scheme?
- Less than 50
How are participating farmers supervised/advised?
- Advisors visits (obligatory)
- Advisors visits (optional)
- Advice by telephone
- Information documents (pamphlets, reports, etc.)
- Information meetings/workshops (obligatory)
- Information meetings/workshops (voluntary)
Farmers were invited to submit an initial expression of interest. Following this, an agreement was drafted by the National Trust, the details of which were discussed with the farmer, including an estimate of minimum and maximum payments. On signing up to the trial farmers were provided with a manual which explains the objectives of the trial, the assessments and payments. The soil health option involves: an annual visual assessment; structural assessments, and sampling for chemical tests. Structural and chemical sampling is done in Years 1 and 5 of the trial. The pollinator health option involves an assessment of the amount of flowering plants on each pasture which is carried out each month from May to August and recording of the shut up and cut up dates for meadows. Soil and pollinator health options can both be taken up for the same land parcel. Assessment sheets are returned annually to the adviser so that scores can be calculated.
Are there any evaluation results (2020)?
Clare Frater, National Trust Project Manager
The National Trust, Heelis, Kemble Drive, Swindon, Wilts, SN2 2NA