ESA vs Arable Area Payment: A Case Study
Within an ESA, archaeological survey recently
identified a site shown by further research to be an early Roman
iron-smelting site operated by the Roman army shortly after the
Conquest. So dense and rich was the concentration of iron slag
that the fertiliser rep's soil tests gave the highest phosphate
levels he had ever found in a field. This was recognised long
ago: by the 13th century, the farm was known by a name reflecting
the exceptional richness of the soil.
Despite a history of cultivation, trial excavation
showed that archaeological stratigraphy survived below ground.
However, the farmer was keen to subsoil this, the best field on
the farm. Indeed, it was his only arable field on an otherwise
pasture farm, where winter fodder, maize and turnips, are grown.
It provides 25 per cent of his total feed.
From the archaeological point of view, the removal
of the field from cultivation is desirable, and the avoidance
of subsoiling essential. From the farmer's point of view, to cease
cultivation would entail a major change to the farming regime,
and, presumably, a change to bought-in feed. The farmer is quite
interested in the archaeological discover, and well disposed to
looking after it, in principle. He does not wish to destroy it,
and has so far refrained from subsoiling. However, the figures
facing him are stark:
ESA payment for arable reversion of the area
would be a maximum £75 per ha. An English Heritage Acknowledgement
Payment/Management Agreement would be a maximum £50-60 per
His present Arable Area payment is £225
per haand he has the crop (all figures annual).
He feels has only one choice.