The DAFM has launched its Multi-Species Swards Measure as part of its €12m support package.
It will deliver the measure in co-operation with participating agri-retailers and co-operatives throughout the country.
The measure aims to promote environmentally sustainable methods of farming. The DAFM believes this will have a “positive” impact on climate, biodiversity, and water quality.
Multi-Species Swards Measure
Subject to farmer uptake and seed availability, the department anticipates that the measure will establish approximately 12,000ha of Multi-Species Swards.
This measure will provide a financial contribution to participating co-op/agri-merchants to offset part of the cost that farmers will incur in purchasing multi-species sward seed.
Upon fully documented verification of eligibility, a payment contribution rate of €50 per 12kg bag of multi-species sward seed will apply to approved applicants purchasing the dedicated multi-species sward seed mixture.
This seed mixture includes six species with the species mix the DAFM in consultation with industry, scientific and research experts, has approved.
The measure will cover seed purchased from the farmer’s approval date until August 31st, 2022.
Research has shown that multi-species swards can:
- Have a positive impact from a climate, biodiversity, and water quality perspective;
- Support improved livestock productive efficiency;
- Reduce dependence on expensive chemical nitrogen.
The DAFM said this has the potential to provide a “more environmentally” friendly production system. It stated that this will allow for increased carbon sequestration while simultaneously reducing nitrous oxide emissions.
- Anticipates that the measure will have a positive impact on targets under the EU Green Deal strategies, including the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategy;
- Contribute to the targets in the Climate Action Plan 2021. This includes reducing Ireland’s dependence on nitrogen fertiliser, while simultaneously aiming to achieve a reduction in agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions by between 22 and 30% by 2030.
How will the programme operate?
- The farmer or his/her advisor will sign up to participate in the Multi-Species Swards Measure through agfood.ie
- The applicant/advisor will select the LPIS parcels where the farmers will plant the Multi-Species seed.
- They will then indicate what quantity of seed they wish to purchase;
- Successful applicants will receive an approval letter from the DAFM. This will state the approved quantity of seed that the farmer may purchase under the measure.
- At the time of purchase, the farmer will bring their approval letter to an approved co-op/agri-retailer where they will purchase the multi-species seed. This form will be signed and stamped by the Co-op/Agri retailer and farmer indicating the amount of seed actually purchased;
- The co-op/agri-retailer will apply to the department to reimburse the discount applied to the price of the multi-species seed sold to approved farmers under the measure.
- The DAFM will make payments to the agri-retailer/co-op based on returns they submit.
Confident of ‘strong’ farmer interest
Launching the measure this afternoon (Friday, March 25th, 2022), Minister McConalogue said:
“I am delighted to launch this measure which will encourage the sowing of multi-species swards.”
“Multi-species swards are proven to reduce our dependency on chemical nitrogen while maintaining forage output. I am very confident there will be strong farmer interest in this initiative.”
“I am particularly pleased with the co-operation we have received from our independent agri-retailers and co-operatives who will play a vital role in the operation of the measure.”
Minister of State Pippa Hackett, who has responsibility for Land Use and Biodiversity, added:
“The roll-out of this measure will offset some of the costs of establishing a multi-species sward. This is a welcome development in what will undoubtedly be a challenging year for the farming sector.”
“The use of multi-species swards can have a positive impact on emissions and water quality. They can provide other environmental benefits such as enhanced biodiversity, particularly through pollinators feeding on the variety of flowering plants in multi-species swards”.
She added that research on multi-species swards has also shown greater resilience to drought.
Meanwhile, UCD-led trials have demonstrated improved anthelmintic properties around lamb production, an “important” element of Ireland’s One Health Strategy.
“The different species in the mix will have a complementary impact at various stages of the growing season with the potential to enhance overall fodder production,” she concluded.
When and how to apply
Farmers wishing to apply for the Multi-Species Swards Measure can do so through www.agfood.ie by the closing date of April 4th, 2022.