Good news from DEFRA about new rates for flower rich grassland

Photo credit: James Hawkins

Good news about new rates for flower rich grassland in DEFRA’s recent announcement. Get ahead and make sure your eligible grassland gets on the Priority Habitat Inventory!

Recent good news from DEFRA included new rates for species rich grassland, and we are celebrating with the Floodplain Meadow Partnership that floodplain meadows now have a special rate of their own too. We await further announcements from DEFRA and hope that this will be the start of recognition and reward for the great work you’ve been doing over many years.

There are new options available in SFI, changes of rates and new options in CS and a combined SFI and CS offer promised for later in 2024. You can read more here:

Full SFI handbook that was updated in January 2024

Technical annex on Combined SFI and CS offer

While we wait for the “devilish details” we want to highlight GS6 this month; the payment rate having more than doubled to £646 per hectare.  DEFRA will shortly announce the schemes that will include GS6 in 2024; which might include Mid Tier, Higher Tier and the Combined SFI and CS offer.

Because eligibility for GS6 requires your grassland to be on Natural England’s Priority Habitat Inventory (PHI) it’s time to get ahead now. You can check which fields are already on the PHI by looking on Magic maps, and if you want to submit data to the PHI you can do this yourself using the guidance and resources on our Survey and Monitoring page. 

This includes “how to” slides, notes on how to do the survey, a PHI Lowland Meadows recording sheet, information regarding Natural England’s evidence requirements, and the Data License Agreement which must be signed to accompany your application.

Herefordshire Meadows advisers can help with surveys and assessments this summer, hopefully in time for 2024 applications and certainly for 2025, at our usual hourly advisory rates.

We should point out that to make this worthwhile for landowners, farmers and surveyors your grassland will have at least 4 key indicator plants growing “occasionally” or “frequently” across each field. Examples include knapweed, ox eye daisy, bird’s foot trefoil, lady’s bedstraw, yellow rattle, meadow sweet, orchids, pignut etc.  The recording sheet that we use gives a more complete list of indicator species.

Contact Meadows Advisers Rory Johnson, Carys Solman and Caroline Hanks through  to book a survey.  

It would help us if you can indicate the number of fields to survey, their size and location, together with past management, previous survey records, and scheme options and the expected timeline for your 2024 scheme applications.