The Economic and Ecological Impact at the Farm Level of Adopting Pennine Dales Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) Grassland Management Prescriptions
The effects of the introduction of Environmentally Sensitive Area grassland management prescriptions on the economics and plant ecology of a farm in the Pennine Dales were assessed within a decision support modelling system. Sheep stocking rates were predicted to fall from an overall rate on the farm of 3.1 ewes per ha to 1.7 ewes per ha, and the suckler cow enterprise was expected to be discontinued when the ESA management agreement was initiated. Whilst hay-making activity was predicted on the inbye land under ESA management, the results of the farm level economics model also suggested that the amount of supplementary feed per ewe and other relative input levels would increase. Overall, farm management and investment income rose with the introduction of ESA management although this was only relative to the financial performance of the previous year, which was observed as being somewhat below average. The predicted changes in management were used as inputs to the NELUP vegetation-environment-management model to determine probable changes in vegetation on the farm following ESA management. The amount of heather on the rough pasture was expected to increase, whilst on the inbye land, the species composition of the vegetation was predicted to be that of a hay meadow community.
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