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Tech Talk: Eddie Young, technical advisor with Charles R Wynne Animal Feeds, addressing farmers at the open day

Tech Talk: Eddie Young, technical advisor with Charles R Wynne Animal Feeds, addressing farmers at the open day

The Gathering: A section of the crowd that attended the recent CAP farm walk at the Harris holding in Co Kildare.

The Gathering: A section of the crowd that attended the recent CAP farm walk at the Harris holding in Co Kildare.

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Tech Talk: Eddie Young, technical advisor with Charles R Wynne Animal Feeds, addressing farmers at the open day

Teagasc held a very informative open day on our farm recently to help ourselves and others understand what changes are being introduced by CAP reform 2015.

Not everything in relation to the CAP is finalised, but the reforms for tillage have been signed off on. This is a brief guide to the main changes.

Greening Rules

Crop Diversification

If you have 10ha or more of arable land, you will have to follow the crop diversification rules on the number of crops to grow and the area they cover. There are two exemptions:

* Farmers who use green cover as an equivalent measure on multiple crops plus GLAS scheme;

* Grassland farmers with more than 75pcof their farmed area in grass with 30ha or less arable area.

Ecological Focus Area

If you have more than 15ha of arable land (crops plus temporary grassland) you will need Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs) that are beneficial to the environment.

EFAs need to be at least 5pc of the digitised reference area for arable land. (This may rise to 7pc in 2017). Grassland farmers with more than 75pc of their land in grass and 30ha or less arable land do not require an EFA.

Permanent grassland

Retention of permanent grassland is a matter for the State not individual farmers.

The crop diversification rules to comply with Greening are:

* If your holding has less than 10ha of arable land, you can grow one crop.

* If your holding has between 10ha and 30ha of arable land you must grow at least two different crops on this tillage ground. Your largest crop must not cover more than 75pc of your arable land.

* If your holding has more than 30ha of arable land you must grow three crops on your arable land. Your largest crop must not cover more than 75pc of you arable area. The two largest crops together must not cover more than 95pc of your arable area.

* Farmers with more than 30ha of arable crops and more than 75pc of their total eligible agricultural area in permanent or temporary grassland will have to comply with crop diversification rules.

WHAT COUNTS As A 'CROP' for crop diversification

* Winter and spring crops count as separate crops (i.e. winter and spring barley). Fodder rape, kale, and maize count as arable crops. So do carrots, daffodils, field beans, linseed and peas.

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This field is required

* A culture of any of the following in the case of brassicaceae and solanaceae. Cabbage family including broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower and cabbages. Potato family, including earlies, main crop and seed. Also rapeseed crops.

Land lying fallow.

Temporary grassland. That is, land that was classified as arable but has been in grass for less than five years. (If grassland has been resown with grass during the past five years it is still permanent grassland)

Permanent grassland, miscanthus and willow are viewed as permanent crops and are not allowed for crop diversification.

Features and land uses acceptable as an EFA are:

* Land lying fallow where there shall be no agricultural production.

* Hedges or wooded strips with a width of up to 10m.

* Trees in a group, where trees are connected by over lapping crown cover, and field copses of maximum 0.3ha in both cases.

* Ditches with a maximum width of 6m, including open watercourses for the purpose of irrigation or drainage.

* Buffer strips shall include the buffer strips along watercourses which are also required to be kept under nitrates regulations and in future under the sustainable use directive for pesticides.

* SPS Eligible Forestry, eligible SPS lands, which were afforested under the afforested aid scheme since 2009.

* Areas of short rotation coppice with no mineral fertiliser and/or plant protection products.

* Areas with nitrogen fixing crop. Farmers are allowed to grow those nitrogen-fixing crops which are included in a list established by the member state - protein crops.

* Areas under catch crops or green cover. This will include green cover established as part of the requirements to comply with the Nitrates Directive.

Any combination of these options can be used to meet an individual's EFA requirement. However, individual items are given different weightings. For example, hedges are given a weighting factor of two, whereas land lying fallow has a weighting factor of one.

This reflects the different environmental value of each type of EFA. This information is important for growers to understand as it may impact on the actions that an individual will have to take to comply with the EFA area requirement.

I would like to thank the Teagasc team for all their hard work both before and on the day, to make it such a success. It was a very good occasion for both sides to have a debate on certain terms and conditions.

If you need any further information regarding "Greening" the Department has set up a helpline 0761064441 or email greening@agriculture.gov.ie

Helen and Philip Harris are tillage farmers in Co. Kildare. Twitter: P&H Harris@kildarefarmer


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