GLAS inspections are currently taking place so participants should be aware of their requirements under the scheme, writes Brian Hughes, drystock advisor, Teagasc Claremorris.
As GLAS 1 & 2 participants will complete their contracts at the end of 2020, non-compliance at this stage could have serious financial implications as clawback of monies already received is possible.
Participants have, in most cases, selected three or four options and should focus on implementing and maintaining the requirements under these options.
Here are some of the main options that have caused difficulties on inspection:
Low Input Permanent Pasture (LIPP)
Do not cut for hay or silage (this is permanent pasture). LIPP must be independently stockproof. This means that LIPP and adjacent non LIPP land must have a stockproof fence between them. Topping is not allowed until after July 1st.
Traditional Hay Meadow (THM)
The traditional meadow must be mown annually after July 1st. Grazing cannot take place from April 15th until the meadow is mown annually which must be after July 1st.
In both LIPP and THM, the maximum chemical nitrogen application is 40kg N per ha. per annum. Boom sprayers cannot be used on either LIPP or THM. Only weed wiping and spot spraying is allowed.
No excavation or ground disturbance is allowed in these areas. This includes any type of reseeding. Also, supplementary feeding of forage is prohibited in these areas.
Wild Bird Cover
The wild bird cover must be sown by the 31st of May each year. The wild bird cover must be sown in the same place for the duration of the GLAS contract.
No harvesting of the crop can take place. Livestock may enter the parcel from March 15th to planting time, to aid in the decomposition of the trash.
Ensure that the correct area is planted. This can have serious repercussions if the area goes below 1ha. where it was taken as a priority action;
Protection of watercourses from bovines
Identified watercourses must be fenced off a minimum of 1.5m from the top of the bank of the watercourse. This fence must be stockproof and permanent i.e. permanent stakes and wire. No drinking points allowed on these identified watercourses;
Planting a Grove of Native Trees
Trees must be planted in rows 2m apart with a distance of 1m between the plants within the rows. Ensure the grove of trees is permanently fenced off and dead trees replaced. Competing vegetation must be controlled;
Planting New Hedgerow New hedgerows must consist of six plants per meter in a double row i.e. plants and rows should be approximately one foot apart. Dead plants must be replaced and competing vegetation controlled. The hedgerow must be fenced with a permanent stockproof fence;
Bird/Bat & Bee Boxes
The boxes must be located where specified on your GLAS plan. They must be clearly visible at the time of an inspection. All boxes damaged by wind must be repaired;
Conservation of solitary bees (sand)
The sand (one tonne of builder’s sand) must be located in the exact position as specified on your GLAS plan. The sand must be permanently fenced from livestock.
The habitat(s) must be strimmed annually to keep vegetation under control. Receipts for the sand must be retained’
Follow the sustainable management plan which forms part of your GLAS plan. While we have covered a number of the options, there are other options that are not covered that may be relevant to you.
In this case, ensure that you are aware of your requirements. Consult the specifications or if in doubt, consult your GLAS planner. Concentrate on the options that are relevant to you and be clear of your requirements.
Where the work is carried out within the correct timescales, inspections are routine and should not worry a farmer.
And finally, key points to note:
- Read your GLAS plan;
- Read the specifications, especially what is relevant to the options undertaken by you;
- If in doubt, consult your GLAS planner.