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GREENING CHANGES TO CONSIDER THAT WILL APPLY TO YOUR 2018 BASIC PAYMENT SCHEME APPLICATION (IN ENGLAND)
Whilst most farmers will have now finished their winter crop establishment, it is hoped that a thought has been spared towards Greening commitments relating their 2018 BPS application.
The first element, Crop Diversification or ‘the 3 crop rule’ as it is known to most, should be addressed whilst determining your cropping schedule for the year. The only reported change to the Crop Diversification rule is that an area can now be declared as a ‘mixed crop’ if it contains small areas of different crops grown next to each other that would individually be too small to claim (less than 0.01ha).
It is therefore assumed that the following will still apply in regards to Crop Diversification;
Remember both Fallow and Temporary Grass are eligible arable crops.
Ecological Focus Areas (EFA) have been subject to several rule changes this year. Though the Rural Payment Agency is yet to publish detailed guidance on the 2018 scheme rules below is a summary of what is known.
This rule change offers a good alternative to those farmers who have in the past relied on Nitrogen Fixing Crops to satisfy their EFA commitment but do not wish to go organic. The majority of field boundaries will have an existing ‘buffer’ between the crop and the boundary already, so it may be as simple as leaving an extra half plough width.
One point to bear in mind is that the 1 metre width required for Buffer Strips needs to be evident at the time of an RPA inspection. These normally take place in the summer after the spring growth has occurred on the hedge. Therefore, if you leave a 1 metre width now it will be less than 1 metre come the summer and not meet the Buffer Strip rules!
The new rules don’t mean that you should abandon the use of Catch and Cover crops if they have worked for you in the past. Whilst you do hear varying results from their use depending on the farmer’s objectives, these will still have a place in some systems if a suitable seed mixture (with no seed dressings) can be found at a sensible price.
Furthermore, do not rush back to trying to crop every last square metre of the farm just because you don’t need to leave Fallow for EFA. The chances are that a wet/shaded field corner is still a wet/shaded field corner that won’t produce an economically viable crop. Perhaps there is now potential for these areas to be entered into a Countryside Stewardship Scheme?. However, be careful you do not fall foul of double funding rates that may apply if using Countryside Stewardship options to meet your EFA commitment. More information can be found on this in your Countryside Stewardship Agreement or on Natural England’s website.
[team-member name=”Sam Dale”]