The Environmental Stewardship Scheme (ESS) provides payments to farmers for the provision of environmental services based on forgone agricultural income. Consequently, farmers with a relatively low opportunity cost of agricultural land will be particularly attracted to apply for entry into the ESS within a given payment region. This article tests whether there exists a significant relationship between Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) Scheme entry and agricultural yields. Empirically, HLS participation is found to be negatively related to cereal yields at the farm level. This could be associated with ‘auspicious selection’ of land into the Scheme, with greater ‘value for money’ provided by the higher entry of land with lower agricultural forgone income but higher environmental benefit within the region.