Tillage farmers must go 'green' for BPS
THIS YEAR sees the introduction of the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) with an additional greening payment. Grassland farmers will be deemed 'green' by definition and require no further action. However, tillage farmers will have to ensure that they meet their greening obligations.
There are two main components to greening - crop diversification and Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs).
Farmers with between 10-30ha of tillage crops are required to have two different crops. Those with greater than 30ha are required to have three crops. In the majority of cases this requirement should not be too hard to satisfy.
For example, new reseeds (from tillage land) sown in the last five years are considered an arable crop and can be one of the three crops grown.
Furthermore some of the under five year-old pasture can be declared as either temporary grass or fallow, which is then deemed to be two different crops.
There are different management rules depending on how this reseeded grass is declared in your BPS application so be aware of all the consequences. No more than 75pc of the total arable area can be one crop. The two main crops cannot be more than 95pc. For those on the smaller land area, the third crop could be reseeded headlands that fail to deliver viable yields. It is reasonable to expect that a small area of a third crop will suffer from lack of management due to inconvenience. These areas can generate a negative return so reseeding these small areas, while providing different options for occasional grazing or harvesting, also permit more viable alternatives.
If grass is sown and declared as fallow, this must be left unused until July 31 each year. Furthermore if the land area continues to be declared as fallow it will remain fallow into the future. Declaring it as temporary grass will convert it to permanent pasture after five years.