Organic Farming: Conversion

Date published: 1 December, 2017

For recent changes to this guidance, please see the bottom of the page.


The aim of this option is to encourage the participation in organic production in Scotland by supporting farmers and groups of farmers to convert their land to organic status.

Organic farming seeks to work with natural processes using methods that are designed to achieve a sustainable production system with limited use of external inputs.

These options provide support to farmers or groups of farmers to use organic farming methods and to encourage the expansion of organic production in Scotland to deliver environmental benefits.


Any land in Scotland is eligible.

You should not include areas of land covering rocks, scree, water, dense bracken etc. We will check this using the same approach we use to check land for the Basic Payment Scheme.

Assessing your land eligibility

To apply, you must provide evidence with your application that conversion of the land is viable through the submission of an Organic Viability proposal (OVP), endorsed from a UK-approved Organic Certification Body.

List of UK approved organic control bodies

Spatial targeting

This option is available throughout Scotland.


You cannot formally apply for conversion of the land included in your application before the full application is submitted. However, you must submit an organic viability proposal OVP endorsed by a UK-approved Organic Certification Body.

After your AECS application is submitted you can apply to your chosen Certification Body to convert the land and they must formally approve your preferred date of conversion (which must be no earlier than Jan 1st of the first year covered in your application) and your detailed conversion plan.

Additionally, you must note that if your application is then accepted under the Scottish Rural Development Programme you must begin conversion by either six months from the date of your authority to start work letter or by your contract start date (usually 1 January) – whichever is the later.

The authority to start work letter is the letter we send to you acknowledging receipt of a signed copy of the contract. The key date here is therefore the date on the letter we send to you acknowledging receipt of the signed copy of the contract – see Note below.

  • you must submit, along with your first annual recurrent claim, confirmation from your organic certification body of the conversion start date of the area subject to conversion payment, showing that you have begun organic certification within the permitted timescales as set out above. Claims and payment information can be found here
  • you must comply with the organic standards (as laid out by European Commission Regulations and the UK Organic Products Regulations) and additionally the Organic Production and Care of the Environment Standards as advised in the UK Compendium of Organic Standards for the duration of your contract for the area subject to conversion for each payment category
  • you must enter a viable production unit (as agreed by an Organic Certification Body), manage it according to organic standards, be an active farmer and remain registered with a Certification Body throughout the period of the agreement
  • each year of your contract, you must submit a copy of your annual production (Land Parcel) schedule and your most recent certificate(s) in support of your annual recurrent claim. The certificate(s) provided must cover the whole period of the year of claim. You should send these to us as soon as they are supplied to you by your organic certification body
  • if you enter land into the Fruit and Vegetables Conversion option you must grow a fruit or vegetable crop on that land at least once in years three to five of your contract
  • land which was registered as fully organic at any time since 1 January 2000 is not eligible
  • you should also refer to the checklist of requirements


For clarification, if the contract is returned and the authority to start work letter are issued before the start of the proposed first calendar year of management, the contract start date is 1 January of the first calendar year of management, for the purpose of the profiling of the annual management payments – see Schedule of Works.

If this process takes place after the start of the proposed first calendar year of management, depending on the timing of this, the profiling of the management may require to be amended to show it beginning to take place from the start of the following year and this will be reflected in a revised Schedule of Work.


Organic conversion payment rates per hectare
Conversion rates per hectareYears one and two Years three to five
Improved Grassland£140£55
Unimproved Grassland / Rough Grazing£12.50£8.50
Fruit and Vegetables£400£200

We will pay you for the duration of your contract on each eligible hectare of land entered into the relevant Organic Conversion option.

Payments to support conversion will be made up to a maximum of 1000 hectares per business or common grazing.

Within this, maximum payments for arable land, improved grassland and vegetable and fruit land will not be made for more than 300 hectares of any such land taken together or separately.

A minimum payment of £500 per annum per IACS registered business for conversion applies.

The description of land categories can be found below:

Description of land categories


The inspectors will check:

  • you have valid copies of organic certification reports and production schedules
  • the land meets the eligibility criteria

Additional guidance

Recent changes

Section Change
EligibilityWe've updated the Organic Viability Proposal documents. We've also updated the 'other sources of information' document.

Previous versions

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