EGP – Extensively Grazed Pasture – has proven to be a popular measure under the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s new flagship agri-environmental programme, ACRES, which is GLAS’ successor in the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
That is according to Teagasc advisor, Tom Kelly, who spoke about the scheme’s various measures during episode three of Teagasc Mayo’s spring webinar series, which focused on ACRES and water quality.
According to Kelly, the EGP measure was an option under the previous GLAS and carries a payment rate of €250/ha/year.
Under this action, which is designed to extensively manage land to benefit invertebrates, birds and other species, there is a maximum inclusion of 8 ha.
Activities such as ploughing, cultivation, reseeding or drainage are prohibited and also, between March 15th and July 1st, mowing and topping are not allowed.
What is permitted and unpermitted?
Kelly explained: “A lot of farmers would have this EGP, which is why it is a very popular action. It is very similar to the traditional hay meadow and low input permanent pasture in GLAS.”
“You can graze these fields and cut them, but you have to wait until July 1st before you can do so. There is also a maximum N – organic or chemical – application of 40kgs of N/ha.”
“Pesticides and herbicides are fairly limited except for spot spraying. Again, rushes can be controlled by topping, grazing, weed wiping or spot spraying after July 1st.”
“The new bit of work that has to be included here is that watercourses must be fenced at least 1.5m back from the top of the bank when bovines are present, and drinking points are not permitted.”
“The whole idea behind this is that it is a drive to improve water quality. Supplementary feeding over the winter of silage is out, but hay to sheep is permitted,” Kelly outlined.
The DAFM has allocated a budget of €1.5 billion to ACRES, which is designed to deliver long-term environmental improvements in biodiversity, climate, air, and water quality.
It is currently “fine-tuning” the scheme and is set to issue approval letters to farmer applicants in March, virtual attendees heard.
The scheme, as widely reported, has two approaches: ACRES General (circa 28,000 applicants) and ACRES Co-operation (approximately 18,000 farmer participants).
Articles on other measures to follow on That’s Farming