The first major assessment of a 'Payment by Results' pilot has shown the project is boosting local wildlife and motivating farmers to develop nature-friendly practices.

The pilot was first introduced in 2016 as a three-year project funded by the European Union.

Last year, former Defra Secretary Michael Gove confirmed that the pilot would be funded for an extra two and a half years, making it the first agri-environment scheme to be solely funded by the UK.

The 34 farmers taking part in the pilot have had the freedom to choose how they manage their land to enhance the environment.

A new report published today (9 October) shows these farmers have recorded a 43% increase in the number and diversity of seed-bearing plants than nearby sites under conventional funding schemes – providing a rich food source for farmland birds during the winter months.


The trial areas for species-rich meadows also recorded a greater number of important plant species, such as pignut and eyebright, benefitting bumblebees, butterflies and birds.

Participating farmers have also reported they felt more motivated to manage their land in a way that enhances the environment.

The pilot was rolled out in 2016 across two areas in Wensleydale, North Yorkshire and in Norfolk and Suffolk in the east of England with environmental objectives to match the needs of each area.

Defra is now funding an extension of the original EU-funded pilots for a further two and a half years.

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