Farmers can now apply for grants of up to £20,000 to improve their boundaries, trees and orchards, air quality and water quality.

The capital grant schemes opened up this month as part of the latest round of Countryside Stewardship (CS) applications.

Farm businesses located only in High Priority Water Quality Areas can apply for capital items across all three of the option groups, while all businesses can apply for the boundaries, trees and orchards set of options.

Examples of some of the options include:

• BN5 Hedgerow Laying - £9.40/m

• RP15 Concrete Yard Renewal – 27.14/m2

• RP30 Floating Slurry Covers - £5.60/m2

• TE5 Supply and Plant a tree - £1.28/tree

The grants are available for parcels not included within an existing Countryside Stewardship scheme but importantly land parcels in Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) are now eligible, providing there is no conflict in the requirements for each agreement.

Phil Goscomb from Savills food and farming team in Taunton, said: “The amount of funding available has doubled this year, so it’s a good opportunity for farmers and landowners – particularly as environmental credentials are coming under closer scrutiny.

“Applications have opened, so now is an ideal time to start thinking about the capital items on offer.

“Examples of popular options available under previous schemes include concrete yard renewal, livestock and machinery hard-core tracks, hard bases for livestock drinkers and sprayer or applicator load and wash-down areas.

"The process is fairly straightforward but some options will require the endorsement of your local Catchment Sensitive Farming Officer (CSFO) which can take up to six weeks.”

Successful applications will be offered an agreement which will start on the first of the month after the agreement has been signed and applicants will have two years to complete the works.