£14m fund to target organic farming in Scotland

AECS was launched to promote land management practices in Scotland which benefit the natural environment
AECS was launched to promote land management practices in Scotland which benefit the natural environment

New funding of more than £14 million will be used to promote organic farming in Scotland, the Scottish government has announced.

The funding is part of the latest round of the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme (AECS), launched to promote environmentally friendly land management practices.

The latest round of AECS will target agri-environment support, organics and slurry storage options.

It will also be used to support the government's ambition to double the amount of land under organic management by 2026.

During a visit to Stagehall Farm in Selkirkshire to see how AECS funding will support their conversion, Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon announced the new round will open from the end of January.

In addition, this year’s £5 million Agriculture Transformation Fund will extend support for slurry storage.

This support aims to help the sector meet the regulatory requirements introduced to improve the storage of slurry and digestate on farms.

Ms Gougeon said: "AECS continues to play a significant role in making Scotland a global leader in sustainable and regenerative agriculture.

“Our £14m of support will help hundreds of farmers, land managers and world-class producers to thrive, while backing our climate change agenda and our response to the biodiversity crisis.

“The £5m in additional support we are announcing today will also help improve the management of slurry and digestate on farms, helping to reduce harmful ammonia emissions.”

As part of changes to AECS, the area cap will be suspended for the conversion to, and maintenance of, organic farmland for AECS 2023 applications.

The following elements will not be available in the 2023 application round: Improving Public Access (IPA); Pond Creation; Muirburn and Heather Cutting; Restoring Drystone or Flagstone Dykes; Bracken Treatment (mechanised and chemical)

In addition, the option for Creation of Hedgerows will be limited to 500 metres per application.