Best Practice Management Guidelines
Awarding higher payments for higher quality has multiple benefits. The structure of results-based payments is not only cost-effective, through saving money on poor quality sites, but also effective in rewarding the maintenance of the ecological quality where it does exist and further incentivising improvements where the quality is sub-optimal, moderate or even poor.
In order for measures to deliver results for the chosen biodiversity targets there need to be supports in place to equip farmers and land managers with the information they need to deliver the best quality results. Along with the scorecard and scoring guidelines, which clearly communicate the process of assessing the quality present in the field, there also needs to be training and guidance provided to farmers.
Under the RBAPS project farmers were provided with one day of training each year, including both indoor and outdoor sessions. The indoor session included an overview of the project and the measures being delivered, and then the details of the measures the attending farmers had lands contracted to, with particular focus on the result indicators and associated payments structure. In the field the various levels of quality were examined and as many issues as possible visited and discussed to help farmers understand how best to both visualise and achieve the highest quality, and also to avoid unwittingly lowering their scores where it could be avoided.
To support understanding of the management that is required to deliver the best results and the management to be avoided in order avoid lower scores (and lower quality), best practice guidelines were produced for each RBAPS measure. These management guidelines are intended as support for the hands on training days and not envisaged to be used as stand alone management tools.