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Replace lost ELS points with key target options for the CFE


Meet Chris Lay; a farmer from Manor Farm in Oxfordshire, who has 356 hectares in Entry Level Stewardship.

Renewing an expiring ELS agreement last year presented a challenge for Chris, so he looked to the Campaign for the Farmed Environment to solve the problem.

Chris said: Around one third of points in the expiring agreement were obtained from soil, nutrient, manure and crop management plans. These options are no longer available which meant I had a significant points deficit to make up in the new agreement.

I wanted to use my new agreement to support the CFE and by selecting a range of key target options I realised I could make up the points I was missing.

The options we selected include field corner management, overwintered stubbles and beetle banks. We also carried over some other key target options wild bird seed mixture and six metre buffer strips from the old ELS agreement that had worked well on the farm.

Despite current grain prices, I firmly believe that renewing our ELS agreement, and opting for key target options, makes financial sense. They are located on the marginal areas of fields where we were never going to get our best yields. Establishing options such as six metre buffer strips also links in with the Local Environmental Risk Assessment for Pesticides and the voluntary element of the Soil Protection Review so they make sense for the business from that perspective too.

For the CFE to succeed farmers are recommended to renew their ELS agreements and replace the points they had in management plans with key target options that can be placed on marginal, less productive areas of land. A programme of events during the spring will provide advice on the options that will work on farm. To find your nearest event see the Campaign website at


Campaign for the Farmed Environment partners are the NFU, the Country, Land and Business Association, the Agricultural Industries Confederation, the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group, the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, Linking Environment and Farming, Defra, Natural England, the Environment Agency and the RSPB. They have been joined by the Association of Independent Crop Consultants and the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers to create a powerful national partnership.

The Campaign website – provides useful information about the campaign targets, themes and voluntary measures. It also highlights activities at a local level including coordination details, a diary of events and details of Beacon Farms.

To find out more about the campaign visit , email or call 02476 858536.

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