What's good for the environment can also be good for your pocket
The envelopes landing on the doorstep don't always bring such excitment. I was relieved and delighted last week when a letter landed in from the Department confirming that we had been accepted into the first tranche of GLAS, the Green Low-carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme.
Even though we knew our submission ranked high enough to qualify, I still feared there could be some unknown fly in the ointment that could upset the apple-cart, as it were.
I also knew we probably wouldn't get into the second, far smaller, tranche as the priority will be farms with what are termed Tier 1 Environmental assets, like endangered birds, Natura Habitats and commonage land.
As for the excitement part, this is the kind of stuff we are interested in doing anyway. We believe it's good on the environment front and being paid for it somehow rubber-stamps the belief that we're on the right track.
Hopefully, as my husband Robin says, I'll be just as enthusiastic when it comes to updating our Nutrient Management Plan!
This is the first time that we would have seriously considered joining any agri-environmental scheme because it's based on selecting a number of specific actions rather than being a whole farm programme.
While I believe we do adhere to good farm practice in how we operate, we would have felt the payment under previous schemes would have been so diluted across the farm as to make it unappealing.
Sustainability is the buzz word de jour in Irish agriculture. To my mind, this comprises a number of elements, including increasing the area under forestry and biomass crops, improving animal efficiency through better genetics and management, and what could be termed the "re-integration" of environmental principles into mainstream farming.