Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Farmers need clearer greening advice

Further greening information has been given to Scots farmers
Further greening information has been given to Scots farmers

The details of the Scottish Government’s proposals for ‘greening’ the new Common Agricultural Policy (Cap) have been slow to emerge and when they have broken cover they have not always met with acclaim.

The announcement last week outlining the rules governing the growing of nitrogen-fixing crops as part of the mandatory Environmental Focus Area (EFA) for each farm is an example in point.

The conditions were widely seen as so restrictive and unattractive that the option is unlikely to have much if any uptake.

That however takes nothing away from the reality that every farm in the country, with a few exceptions such as farms of less than 15ha and organic units, will need to set aside 5% of their arable area as an EFA.

The initial penalty for not complying will be the loss of 30% of the new Basic Payment Scheme which is dependent on implementing approved greening measures.

On the positive side the Scottish Government’s chosen method of communication to date, the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) website, is occasionally quietly updated with this week several new items added.

The options available, which can be used in combination, are narrowed down to fallow, buffer strips alongside water courses between two metres and 20 metres wide, field margins of between one metre and 20 metres wide, catch crops and growing nitrogen-fixing crops.

The last of these has of course been discredited in recent days.

For many, field margins and water course-related buffer strips will be attractive options.

They are weighted at 1.5, meaning for every hectare used a notional 1.5 hectares will be calculated as meeting the farm’s EFA obligation.

It seems that no agricultural production is allowed on either option although water margins can be cut.

Hedges and ditches can be included as part of a field margin but measuring these may be problematic.

Catch crops may prove popular although the weighting is only 0.3.

Sowing such a crop after the main season’s crop will depend on an early harvest but there could be agronomic benefits.

The rules dictate they can be established between March 1 and October 1 so the window is wide enough and a list of eligible crops has been published.

These can be sown in mixtures of two or more crops and include rye, vetch, phacelia, barley, mustard, oats, alfalfa and  game cover mixtures.

NFU Scotland has been scrutinising every update to the Scot Gov website and has pointed out a problem with cover crops.

The general ruling is that all EFA measures “will certainly have to be in place by May 15 each year” but of course this would be impossible with the vast majority of cover crops not being sown until August or early September.

Some of course might be undersown which is allowable.

There also seems to be no guidance on how long a cover crop will have to stay in the ground.

Ground left fallow will have a weighting of one making it more attractive than nitrogen fixing crops at 0.7.

There is some confusion, however, over the length of time the land will have to be left fallow.

It is given as a minimum of six months but there is no indication as to whether it will be like the old set-aside rules which allowed fallow to be ploughed after July 15 in preparation for a following crop.

Even calculating the 5% EFA requirement for any one farm will need to be done with care.

Arable land is defined as the area claimed by a business which is land cultivated for crop production including areas of temporary grassland (up to five years old following an arable or break crop).

It includes land available for crop production but lying fallow but not organically farmed land.

There is little doubt most farmers will err on the safe side so as not to fall foul of inspections but without exception all will be looking for far clearer guidance.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]