BPS GREENING MEASURES
Defra have just released further information on the implementation of the CAP greening measures. This newsletter summarises this new information and is intended to be read in conjunction with our previous newsletter on the BPS Greening Measures.
CROP DIVERSIFICATION – QUALIFICATION PERIOD
Under crop diversification the ‘cropping period’ will be the period 1st May to 30th June. For crop diversification, fallow land would just have to be out of production for this period, but bear in mind if you are also using it for your EFA it will need to be in for longer.
Where crops are harvested before 30th June, stubble will be judged to be evidence of the crop having been grown, but photos or cropping records may also be considered – ongoing discussions are still to be finalised.
CROP DIVERSIFICATION – WINTER VS SPRING CROPS
Winter and spring crops will count separately for Crop Diversification. Variety will determine if it is a spring or winter crop, so if you plant a spring variety in the autumn it will still be treated as a spring crop.
To confirm if you have a winter or spring variety look at page 3-4 in the attached National List to find the crop in question. Then look on the crop page to see if there is a ‘s’ or ‘w’ next to the variety name.
If there isn’t an ‘s’ or ‘w’ next to your variety name then look at http://www.pgro.org/index.php/
ECOLOGICAL FOCUS AREAS – BUFFER STRIPS
These need to be next to watercourses i.e. lake, pond, stream, canal or ditch – temporarily dry ditches are allowed.
The strips can also be parallel with, and on a slope leading to a watercourse – further clarification is required.
1m of buffer strips will generate 9 m2 of EFA, so this is a good way to meet your EFA requirements, but remember:
- Minimum width is 1 metre as measured from the top of the bank.
- They cannot be fertilised or sprayed
- They can be grazed or cut
- Have to be next to arable land – but remember temporary grass is classed as arable
It appears it will be possible to have a 6m field margin and count the first 1m as a buffer strip and the remaining 5m as fallow, as long as the margin is arable land and qualifies to have fallow on it.
We still need clarification as to whether existing field margins and buffer strips will retains their arable status if they have been in place for more than 5 years and have a grass cover.
ECOLOGICAL FOCUS AREAS – NITROGEN FIXING CROPS
Beans, peas, lupins and soya are all classed as nitrogen fixing crops. Clover, lucerne, sainfoin and trefoil will also be classed as nitrogen fixing but not if they are grown as part of a mix with non legumes.
Minimum plot size is 0.01ha and they must be in place during the cropping period 1st May to 30th June.
ECOLOGICAL FOCUS AREAS – HEDGES
Much is still to be decided about hedge eligibility such as hedges bordering roads/neighbours/non-arable land, and those with gaps in them. More information is promised in October, but this may be too late for many, and with payments likely to be delayed if hedges are used it may be better to avoid them this year if alternatives are available.
ECOLOGICAL FOCUS AREAS – CATCH CROPS AND COVER CROPS
A catch crop has to be in place by 31st August in the scheme year, and retained until at least the 1st October.
A cover crop has to be in place by 1st October in the scheme year and retained until 15th January the following year. So for your BPS 2015 claim, the cover crop does not have to be in until October 2015.
Requirements for these crops are:
- Minimum area of 0.01ha
- Must be a mix of one cereal and one non-cereal crop that establishes quickly – more details will be available in October
You cannot count the same piece of land towards more than one EFA use in any single scheme year i.e. you cannot grow a nitrogen fixing crop in the spring, harvest it, and put in a cover crop before 1st October and count it twice.
ECOLOGICAL FOCUS AREAS – FALLOW
Fallow period for EFA purpose is 1st January to the 30th June in the scheme year. No crop can be planted during this period, but wild bird seed mixes and nectar mixes will be allowed to be planted on this land.
You can use temporary grass as fallow land under EFA. However, no grazing or crop production is allowed during the fallow period. You could top the land regularly, but the topping must be left to rot down.
The minimum area of fallow land is 0.01ha, with a minimum width of 2 m.
Farmers who have agreements that face payment reductions due to greening will be written to shortly.
You will be given until 15th November to decide whether to amend, rescind or continue with your agreement.
The transfer deadline for entitlements has moved from the 19th October to the 21st October.
Further details on the following are due in October:
- Future use of dual land
- Common land is being remapped, so changes in these areas are likely, but the treatment of common land is unlikely to change
- The Active farmer test
- How farms with a mix of organic and non-organic land will be treated
SO WHAT DO I NEED TO DO NOW?
It is important that you calculate as soon as possible if your planned cropping for 2015 is likely to meet the EFA and crop diversification requirements.
In order to do this you need to:
- Determine your permanent grassland area – go back through your SPS forms for the previous 5 years (2010 onwards). If it’s been grass in all 5 years it is classed as permanent grass.
- Calculate permanent crop area from SPS forms
- Calculate remaining arable area
- Calculate how much EFA you need to have, and check the status of your ELS agreement
- Calculate how many arable crops you need to grow and what will be the minimum area of each
We can do these calculations for you if you wish.
It is also important that you prioritise your greening options:
- HLS options
- ELS options if agreement started before 1st January 2012
- Buffer strips
- Nitrogen fixing crops
- Green cover
Disclaimer: The information in this newsletter is provided in good faith based on the information available at the time of writing. Before taking any action, please check the definitive rulings when they are issued.