Farm Ireland

Sunday 22 October 2017

Alternative options on offer under environment scheme

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Details of the proposed Agri-Environment Options Scheme (AEOS) have been outlined by the Department of Agriculture.

As expected, the scheme will operate on a menu-type system, with payments to the farmer based on the number of actions he/she undertakes on the farm.

Farmers who are eligible for entry to AEOS will be asked to nominate which of three primary environmental objectives they will work towards.

The three objectives are halting biodiversity decline, maintaining water quality and combating climate change.


Under each heading, the farmer must choose at least one mandatory action, a complementary action and then choose additional actions.

A farmer who chooses the biodiversity option must then choose at least one of four mandatory actions. These are species-rich grassland, traditional hay meadows, establishment and maintenance of habitats and wild-bird cover (grassland farms only).

The farmer can then choose to add a second mandatory action or a complementary action.

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Under the biodiversity banner, the complementary actions are riparian margins, conservation of animal genetic resources, traditional orchards, tree planting, coppicing hedgerows, laying hedgerows or traditional stonewall maintenance.

Finally, the farmer can choose to take as many additional actions as he/she wants, up to a maximum payment of €5,000/year.

The additional actions under biodiversity are planting new hedgerows, arable margins, green cover establishment from a sown crop, use of trailing shoe technology, minimum tillage and alternative water sources for bovines.

A farmer who opts for the water quality objective has the option of two mandatory actions: riparian margins or alternative water source for bovines.

Complementary actions in the water quality area include species-rich grassland, traditional hay meadows, arable margins, green cover establishment, minimum tillage and trailing shoe technology.

Additional actions under the water quality objective are traditional orchards, planting new hedgerows, wild-bird cover (grassland farms only), establishment and maintenance of habitats, conservation of animal genetic resources, coppicing hedgerows, laying hedgerows and traditional stonewall maintenance.

The three mandatory actions under the climate change objective are arable margins, green cover establishment and minimum tillage.

The complementary actions in this category are riparian margins, planting new hedgerows, tree planting, species-rich grassland, traditional hay meadows and trailing shoe technology.

Finally, the additional actions under the climate change objective are establishment and maintenance of habitats, coppicing or laying hedgerows, traditional orchards, alternative water source for bovines, stonewall maintenance and conservation of animal genetics.


The majority of payments are an annual agri-environment payment for work done.

However, there are also some measures that include capital investment, such as fencing.

Payments for capital investments will require invoices to be submitted, and payment will be phased over a five-year period, as in the existing REPS scheme.

Irish Independent