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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Eco-scheme: 8 measures that qualify for payment

Eco-Scheme Measures under the next CAP

There are eight measures (excluding two further enhanced options) that farmers can choose from under the DAFM’s new Eco-scheme in the next CAP.

During a public information meeting on Ireland’s draft CSP, DAFM official, Brian Batt told attendees that farmers must undertake and complete two measures to qualify for full payment.

Eco-scheme Measures 

Subject to the European Commission’s approval, these are the measures that farmers can select as part of the voluntary annual scheme:

  • Space for Nature;
  • Extensive livestock production;
  • Limiting chemical nitrogen use;
  • Planting on native hedgerow/trees;
  • Use of GPS controlled spreader and/or sprayer;
  • Soil sampling and appropriate liming;
  • Planting a break crop;
  • Sowing a multi-species sward.
  1. Space for Nature (Non-productive areas and landscape features)

  • Increasing requirement of land devoted under GAEC 8 to 7%.
  • Enhanced option: Increasing to 10% (counts as two actions).

Batt explained: “You have to reach 4% for conditionality for your basic payment. If you go to 7%, that counts as one of your Eco-scheme measures.”

“Meanwhile, if you go to 10% under the enhanced option, that will count as your two Eco-scheme measures, and you will qualify for payment.”

“We see that as being the big one for farmers. Currently, we see a lot of farmers coming in with the 7% already and a lot will already be above 10%, depending on your farm’s features.”

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“We are hoping to have all of these features mapped by September and have estimated out to farmers by then. That will let you know, before the Eco-scheme opens, how you are standing for this.”

  1. Extensive livestock production

Maximum overall stocking rate of 1.5LU / ha for the calendar year.

Batt explained that the minimum stocking rate requirements are similar to ANC (0.10LU/ha).

Like ‘active farmer’ requirements, the DAFM will base this on this year’s stocking rate, with “further checks” next year.

  1. Limiting chemical nitrogen usage

The DAFM will base the stocking rate band based on previous year’s data.

Tillage farmers will have a limit of 139 kgs N/ha, which, according to Batt, is a 10% reduction on the usage across the five main cereals.

  1. Planting of native trees/hedgerows

According to the DAFM, there is a minimum planting rate of 3 native trees or 1 metre of hedgerow per eligible hectare per annum.

Enhanced options (These count as two actions, and you will qualify for full payment):

  • 2 metres of hedgerow/ha OR;
  • 6 native trees/ha OR;
  • 3 native trees AND 1 metre of hedgerow/ha.
  1. Use of GPS controlled spreader and/or sprayer

Under this, farmers must apply at least 60% of chemical fertiliser (compound or liquid) and/or plant protection products with a GPS controlled spreader or sprayer (based on TAMS specification).

The DAFM official explained that this can be their own machine or a contractor service.

  1. Soil sampling and appropriate liming

Under this, farmers carry out soil sampling on all eligible hectares. If there is a liming requirement, farmers must apply in accordance with soil test results where appropriate.

He explained that this is only available as an Eco-scheme action every three years (as per Teagasc’s liming advice) once farmers opt for this.

Furthermore, he confirmed that Nitrates Derogation farmers could not opt for this measure as this is already a mandatory requirement

  1. Planting a break crop

Planting of a break crop (beans, peas, OSR or oats or any combination of these crops) on at least 20% of the arable area.

  1. Sowing a multi-species sward

Sowing of a multi-species sward on at least 6% of eligible hectares in the year the action is selected.

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