Applicants for the Countryside Stewardship (CS) scheme have one extra month to complete their Mid-Tier application and send it to Natural England.

The deadline for applications to be with Natural England has been extended from July 31 to August 31, allowing extra time for farmers to fill out their forms during the busy summer months.

Over 10,000 farmers and land managers requested an application pack ahead of the May 31 deadline earlier in the spring, and more time has been granted to allow these customers the opportunity to complete their forms and send them off for an agreement offer by August 31.

Whilst the majority of applicants issued their requests for an application pack in the days up to the 31 May deadline, Natural England is on track to issue all application packs to farmers and land managers by the end of June.

This leaves two months to complete the form.

Benefits of Countryside Stewardship

Entering a CS agreement aims to bring multiple benefits to soil health, water quality and create habitats for wildlife on farmland.

This can improve the quality of the food produced, reduce the risk of pollution from farming, and see the return of cherished species such as the curlew and lapwing to farmland.

The government has outlined an ambition for farming and environmental enhancement to work more closely together post-Brexit.

Entering into a CS agreement is said to be a way for farmers to start changing the way they manage their land ahead of the introduction of a land management scheme that will replace the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

For the 2018 application window, four new simplified “wildlife offers” have been introduced for upland, lowland, mixed farm and arable, with a shorter form to fill out and a streamlined selection of options depending on farm type.

New entrants to CS, or farmers coming to the end of a legacy Entry-level Stewardship Scheme, are guaranteed an agreement with as few as three options.

Applicants who wanted to apply for a wildlife offer, but received the incorrect pack, should contact Natural England about their application.