Farm Ireland

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Eye in the sky to replace most on-the-ground farm inspections

(European Space Agency/PA)
(European Space Agency/PA)
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

New developments in satellite technology will dramatically reduce the number of on the spot field inspections carried out on farms across the EU.

That’s according to EU Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Phil Hogan who said the use of technology can also bring enormous benefits in terms of simplification of the Common Agriculture Policy.

“New technology can significantly reduce the number of field inspections.

“Already paying agencies are using free of charge data from the Sentinel satellites of the EU funded Copernicus programme

“In the near future satellite monitoring of parcels could replace most of the on the spot checks. This kind of simplification is very much in my plans,” the Commissioner told Agriculture MEPs this week.

“I am convinced that we don’t have to wait for the next CAP reform before using these technologies and together we can make a lot of progress quickly,” he added.

Some 6,500 Irish farmers were selected for a Remote Sensing (Satellite) inspection across the various area-based schemes according to figures from the Department of Agriculture.

Less than 1pc of farmers can expect to have an actual visit from a Department of Agriculture inspector on Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) in 2016, as the digital eye in the sky replaces the manual task for the majority of farm inspections.

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In the case of Remote Sensing (Satellite) inspections, a comprehensive review of the satellite imagery received must be undertaken to ensure that the actual claimed area in the application form corresponds to the area farmed by the applicant, that the crop types are as claimed and that ineligible land or features are not included for payment purposes.

The regulations prescribe that where it is not possible to make an accurate determination on the eligibility of a parcel or parcels of land by means of an assessment of the available imagery, a field visit must be undertaken to verify the position on the ground.

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