Pilot results-based payment approaches for agri-environment schemes in arable and upland grassland systems in England.
In this publication, to test if results-based Agri-Environment Schemes (AES) could work in a range of different farming systems and for the delivery of different biodiversity objectives, the European Commission provided 70[[%]] funding for a Results-Based Agri-Environment Pilot Scheme (RBAPS) in England. The project ran from January 2016 to December 2018. The overall aims of the pilot were: to set up result-based agreements in 2 geographical locations looking at 2 environmental outcomes (broadly equivalent to conventional scheme 'options') in upland grassland and lowland arable farming systems; to assess the environmental performance of habitats under result-based agreements; to compare the result-based approach to control sites within the pilot boundary; to test the accuracy of farmer self-assessment of results; to test the cost effectiveness of the result-based approach; and to explore agreement holder and stakeholder attitudes to result-based approaches. The pilot tested the RBAPS approach in the delivery of 4 environmental objectives, namely: species rich hay meadows, habitat for breeding waders, provision of winter bird food, and provision of pollen and nectar resources for pollinators. The England pilot has built on the available evidence and developed and tested result scoring assessments and tiered results-based payments for 4 biodiversity objectives. A pure results-based approach provides an important motivation, and also a value-for-money safeguard to ensure payments are only made for performance above a defined minimum level.