Mixed picture for Organic Payments

Application windows are open in England and Scotland but are currently closed in Wales and Northern Ireland.

ENGLAND – Countryside Stewardship

UPDATE: 15 Jan 2018 - Countryside Stewardship scheme NOW OPEN for applications

Organic management & conversion options in England are part of Countryside Stewardship, with improved payment rates on offer compared to the previous Organic Entry Level Scheme (OELS).

This new payment together with the greening exemption for certified organic farmers, means that simply being organic will be worth approximately £130 per hectare on arable land. 

Further information is available here.

Critical dates

The closing dates depend on whether you're making a mid, or higher-tier application. If you're not sure which to apply for, Natural England have put together this infographic showing the different packages and how they fit into the tiers.

  • Mid-tier: Send off for application packs by 31 May. Submit by 31 July.
  • Higher-tier: Send off for application packs by 9 March. Submit by 13 April. 


  • Organic management & conversion options are available through the Countryside Stewardship (CS) Scheme.
  • All new CS contracts will have a start date of 1 January 2019 and are for 5 years.
  • To qualify for two years of conversion payments, land can go into conversion anytime from the 15 May 2018 to 1 January 2019.

Organic management & conversion rates

Since 2016, new options for organic management & conversion are included in the CS scheme. On most land types the payment rates for management have increased from OELS. To qualify:

  • You must prove that you are (or will be) registered as organic.
  • You must be an active farmer.
  • You must have management control of all land parcels entered into CS options for 5 years

To apply, producers must register their land with an organic certification body, such as the Soil Association. They can do so before submitting their application to Natural England. Alternatively, farmers can apply for conversion funding before starting the conversion process with an organic certification body.

Farmers choosing to do this will have to complete a Viability Assessment as part of their application and will have to start their Organic Conversion period before the Countryside Stewardship agreement starts on 1st January.

Payments will be made twice a year.

Total payment per ha per year



Rotational land



Improved Grassland



Unimproved Grassland



Horticultural land



Top Fruit

£450 **


Enclosed rough grazing




*Conversion payments are for two years. Subsequent years will be paid at the Management rate.

       **Top Fruit conversion payments are for three years.

How to apply

The scheme manuals are available here.

Existing OELS agreement holders

People with existing OELS agreements will be expected to continue with those agreements until they complete. At that point, we hope they will transfer into the new scheme. This does mean that for most people there will be a gap of between 1 to 11 months between the completion of their OELS agreement and the start of a new Countryside Stewardship agreement.


2015 saw the introduction of Greening requirement to the new Basic Payment Scheme. Farmers will have to comply with new Greening measures to qualify for 30% of the BPS payment. Organic land is ‘green by default’; this means they will automatically qualify for the 30% of BPS payments (expected to be approximately £65 per ha on non-SDA land) and won’t have to get to grips with all of the Greening rules in the BPS Guide.

With £65 per ha for organic management on rotational land plus approx. £65 per ha for Greening, being organic will be worth around £130 per ha on arable land in 2017.

(Source – Soil Association)


SCOTLAND - Agri-Environment Climate Scheme (AECS)

UPDATE: 15 Jan 2018 AECS now open for applications

The Scottish government is offering financial support for those converting to organic farming.

What you need to know:

  • Support for organic farming includes two Agri-Environment Climate Scheme (AECS) options: Organic Farming Conversion and Organic Farming Maintenance.
  • Maintaining or increasing the area of organically managed farmland in Scotland is recognised as a National Priority in terms of the delivery of AECS. Organic options are available throughout Scotland.
  • Organic conversion payments range from £12.50ha to £400ha
  • Organic maintenance payments range from £8.50ha to £200ha
  • Agreements will last for 5 years

Organic conversion payment rates:

Rates per hectare

Years 1-2

Years 3-5




Improved grassland



Unimproved grassland/rough grazing



Fruit & vegetables



Payments to support conversion will be made up to a maximum of 1,000 hectares per business or common grazing.

Within this, maximum payments for arable land, improved grassland and vegetable and fruit land will not be made for more than 300 hectares of any such land taken together or separately.

Please note that for the latest information regarding information on Agri-Environment Climate Scheme (AECS) options: Organic Farming Conversion and Organic Farming Maintenance please refer to the Scottish Government Rural Services website.

(Source: Soil Association)

WALES - Glastir Organic

The latest update posted in October 2017 is shown below:

“Scheme closed to new entrants.

Glastir Organic was an element of the Welsh Government's Glastir Scheme. Glastir Organic provided support to organic farmers and producers, who delivered positive environmental land management.

Glastir Organic was a 5 year contract with Welsh Government, open to:

  • those who wished to convert to organic production
  • existing organic producers who met the eligibility criteria.

As part of the our commitment to a digital Wales, the Glastir Organic application was developed online and was available through the Rural Payments Wales (RPW) Online service.”

(Source – Welsh Government)

NORTHERN IRELAND – Environmental Farming Scheme (EFS)

The EFS includes organic support options but is currently closed to applications.  The last window opened 27th February 2017 and closed 31st March 2017.

Essential information about the scheme:

  • Organic conversion & maintenance options are available
  • Organic Farming Conversion and Organic Farming Maintenance options are available as part of the Environmental Farming Scheme (EFS) 
  • Organic conversion payments range from £45/hectare to £358/hectare
  • Organic maintenance payments range from £20/hectare to £197/hectare
  • Agreements will last for 5 years
  • You should be registered with a certification body on or before the date of your application

Organic maintenance & conversion options

To enter land there is a minimum area of 3ha of grass and arable and 1 ha for horticultural land, which includes top fruit. Schemes are for 5 years.

These payments are for the first 60ha of arable land and grassland and for the first 6 hectares of horticultural land. Above these 60ha and 6ha threshold digressive payments are offered.

(Sources: Soil Association and DAERA-NI)