CS on Traditional Orchards- unwise?

PhilipB

New Member
I'm getting the impression that this forum's experience of CS is generally negative.

I'm taking over a neighbouring farm that has about 20Ha of traditional orchards.

My question is- would I be wise if I put them into a CS Mid Tier agreement? (£200 per Ha)

As far as management is concerned, it would be money for nothing- the chap who (kind of) farms them doesn't use sprays or fertiliser.

The only downside (beyond the admin) is the fear that the orchards (already a 'BAP Priority Habitat') might suddenly become protected and I wouldn't be able to get rid of them and have 'vacant possession' of the land.

Is that a genuine risk?
 

farmerm

Member
Location
Shropshire
I'm getting the impression that this forum's experience of CS is generally negative.

I'm taking over a neighbouring farm that has about 20Ha of traditional orchards.

My question is- would I be wise if I put them into a CS Mid Tier agreement? (£200 per Ha)

As far as management is concerned, it would be money for nothing- the chap who (kind of) farms them doesn't use sprays or fertiliser.

The only downside (beyond the admin) is the fear that the orchards (already a 'BAP Priority Habitat') might suddenly become protected and I wouldn't be able to get rid of them and have 'vacant possession' of the land.

Is that a genuine risk?
I expect that could be a genuine risk CS or no CS! Sad to say but the only way to remove the risk of getting stuck with the orchard might be to rip it out now..
 

PhilipB

New Member
How would/could they do that? Make it an SSSI for instance?

Do you know of examples of where something similar has happened?
 
Do you have a long term plan for the Orchards?
If you are happy for them to remain and be maintained and if they are varieties of apples that may have value then they could be worth keeping and take the money. Are they traditional trees which can have sheep grazed under them?
But if they are of little economic value then get them out asap before someone slaps a protection order on them. £200 a Ha which I would guess will stipulate a level of management and maintenance might not go very far.

What sort of land are you on? You do not say what part of the country you are in.
 

PhilipB

New Member
Do you have a long term plan for the Orchards?
If you are happy for them to remain and be maintained and if they are varieties of apples that may have value then they could be worth keeping and take the money. Are they traditional trees which can have sheep grazed under them?
But if they are of little economic value then get them out asap before someone slaps a protection order on them. £200 a Ha which I would guess will stipulate a level of management and maintenance might not go very far.

What sort of land are you on? You do not say what part of the country you are in.

In Kent. Traditional "mixed" Kent farm.

Elderly relative who thought the the post war world was largely a mistake. And so carried on planting orchards on a traditional plan into the 90s.

So the orchards are probably on the best soil.

As well as the £200 per hectare there is the possibility of £60 a tree for "regenerative pruning" - which is potentially quite useful.

The question is whether NE would consider that they needed pruning.

The thing that worries me is the "habitat" emphasis. If this was about "landscape value" then my heart would be in it more, because I see that traditional orchards add to the landscape. Were this (say) a grant administered by the weald AONB for traditional landscape maintenance then I think I'd be happier.

Re grazing, yes, that's possible, but with the trees forking at about 1.5 metres and nettles too, "lookering" would be a pain.

Plus if NE want, in effect, a wood made of fruit trees and will not pay to have the canopy thinned by pruning then the value of the grass will surely shrink to practically nil.

I suppose I could hang on and hope the ELMs comes up with grants more focused on landscape history, but I guess this "habitat" idea isn't going to vanish.
 

PhilipB

New Member
Yes ...EIA 1348. Currently the subject of ongoing legal battle. The state sponsored environmentalists have designs on your land. CS is their way in. Beware.

Thanks, yes, I see you've referred to this before in previous discussions.

Could you point me to a place where you've set out what happened please?
 
You could just get the trees out and you will make so much mess that you will have to cultivate and plant the land with a crop at the end of it.
DO NOT go down the EIA route as it will end badly, however I am not sure you actually need it.
What is the land described as under BPS. If it is not permanent pasture but orchards I think you can remove the trees and turn it back to arable.

However if you want to keep it as orchards, I would be tempted to remove some of the trees and open up the space in between so it can be used for grazing. You should still get payments for doing this and it will be easier to manage.
 
I should get spraying roundup around the trees, get some bare ground photographic evidence if you ever want to be able to utilise this ground. Trouble with taking any CS payment is they will know exactly what you have there and further down the line they will stop the payments but block you doing anything else with the land by EIA screening.
This is only going to get worse and BAP priority recognition is like having SSSI status protection wise.
You have to either embrace their environmental designs and forget farming that land or plead ignorance and not read about the subject cos you will frighten yourself with the implications. But Frank-the-Wool is right, try to do it by the book and you’ll lose out.
 

PhilipB

New Member
You could just get the trees out and you will make so much mess that you will have to cultivate and plant the land with a crop at the end of it.
DO NOT go down the EIA route as it will end badly, however I am not sure you actually need it.
What is the land described as under BPS. If it is not permanent pasture but orchards I think you can remove the trees and turn it back to arable.

However if you want to keep it as orchards, I would be tempted to remove some of the trees and open up the space in between so it can be used for grazing. You should still get payments for doing this and it will be easier to manage.

So I've looked into EIA.

It is so frustrating- EIAs are needed for uncultivated land and- as a bit of an afterthought- BAP Priority habitats. PH's are, by definition 'semi natural'.

I phoned the NFU about this.

This is so unfair- I guess it kind of works for other PH's- but there is nothing 'semi natural' about an orchard- it is as man-made as they come- and they were lavished with arsenic and nicotine, back in the day, to make sure that nature didn't get a foot-hold.

Furthermore- reading the literature- they were designated Traditional Orchards from aerial photographs and only some have been 'ground-truthed'- and those that have have 'truthed' have been recorded as pear (there is not a pear tree in them!)

I feel I am in double hole- I might be able to prove that they were 'cultivated' by spray records (a bit of a mission as the farmer is dead, and wasn't big on records)- but that would not remove the fact that they are- physically- Traditional Orchards- and therefore (according to them) If physically a Traditional Orchard then, by definition- Semi natural.

Land is orchards under BPS. - 'Permanent crops', I think. and in the June Survey 'Horticulture- orchards for human consumption'
 
The difference between traditional and commercial in BAP terms I read was bare ground band sprayed along tree bases.....so establish that prior to asking NE advice and you have some arguable grounds? That’s why I said roundup round trees, not in an effort to kill them, although that could be another approach!
Don’t ask them for help or advice, I did and tried to do right thing and ask about screening etc......
You need to hang on to the rpa definition of commercial production and do some interrow work by putting some fertiliser/muck or cultivation’s to prove cultivated rather than uncultivated.
If you’ve asked them already before you asked TFF then good luck and God be with you.
Or play along to their tune and be a paid park keeper but the payments will likely drop away or cease and they will have taken possession by default.
 
we replanted a small orchard, under css, we were offered a silly price for the orchard, 1.5 acres and £25,000. this was 2010, and sold. CSS bods were informed, the buyer would transfer css to himself, all the css were concerned, was the long term future of the orchard, how would the trees be managed when mature, basically they were talking 30 years plus, nothing about that on the origional agreement. We repaid what they had paid us, and added it to the price. In your case, I would take some serious advice, you may well be looking at a mine field.
 

PhilipB

New Member
we replanted a small orchard, under css, we were offered a silly price for the orchard, 1.5 acres and £25,000. this was 2010, and sold. CSS bods were informed, the buyer would transfer css to himself, all the css were concerned, was the long term future of the orchard, how would the trees be managed when mature, basically they were talking 30 years plus, nothing about that on the origional agreement. We repaid what they had paid us, and added it to the price. In your case, I would take some serious advice, you may well be looking at a mine field.
Very interesting. Thanks.
 

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