Everything you need to know about GLAS

GLAS, first opened in Februrary 2015 and is co-funded by the EU. This ambitious scheme aims to focus on the rural environment, focusing in particular on the preservation of various habitats and species, mitigating climate change and improving water quality.

What is GLAS?

The acronym GLAS stands for Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme. It is the new agri-environment scheme, part of the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.

It comes after the Rural Environmental Protection Scheme (REPS) and the Agri Environmental Options Scheme (AEOS).

GLAS looks to tie in with the green vision for Irish agriculture as contained in Food Harvest 2020 and as promoted by Bord Bia in the Origin Green campaign.

According to the Department, the scheme is green as it preserves Ireland’s traditional hay meadows and low input pastures; low-carbon as it retains the carbon stocks in soil through margins habitat preservation and practices such as minimum tillage; and agri-environment as it promotes agricultural actions which enhance the rural environment.

GLAS aims to encourage farmers to promote biodiversity, protect water quality, and also to help combat climate change.

The overall target for GLAS is to attract 50,000 farmers into the new scheme over its lifetime. Almost 30,000 farmers applied for the first Tranche of GLAS.

Tranche 1 of GLAS opened in March 2015 to applications closed on May 26, 2015.

Tranche 2 was launched in October 2015 and closed before the end of 2015.

Tranche 3 opened in November 2016 and will close in six weeks time in mid-December.

How does GLAS work?

Anyone looking to enter the GLAS scheme must apply to the Department of Agriculture. This can be done through a Teagasc advisor or private agricultural consultant.

To comply with the scheme, you must fulfil a number of core requirements, including the requirement to have a qualified agricultural advisor prepare and submit your application.

Further, a Nutrient Management Plan must be carried out before you apply. If you are successful you must attend Knowledge Transfer courses approved by the Department of Agriculture and you must keep sufficient records.

Applicants to GLAS will be judged on whether they are Tier 1, 2 or 3 farmers. Tier 1 farmers will be given first preference, then Tier 2, then Tier 3.

The selection process will apply weightings in terms of environmental benefit to actions and a scoring system will be used to allocate places.

Maximum Payment

The maximum payment available under GLAS is €5,000. More information on how to qualify for the full €5,000 payment can be found here.

Core Management Requirements (All of these requirements are compulsory)

  • An approved agricultural advisor must prepare the GLAS application
  • Nutrient Management Planning
  • Training in environmental practices and standards
  • Record keeping of actions delivered

commonage lake sheepPriority Environmental Assets and Actions (PEAs)

It is not guaranteed that all Tier 1 farmers will get into GLAS but those who get priority are farmers with Priority Environmental Assets and Actions (PEAs). The five PEAs are:

  1. Farmland habitat (private Natura sites);
  2. Farmland birds (Twite, Breeding Waders, Chough, Geese/Swans, Corncrake, Grey Partridge, Hen Harrier);
  3. Commonages (50% minimum participation in GLAS Commonage Management Plan);
  4. High status water area;
  5. Rare breeds.

Registered organic farmers will qualify for priority access to the scheme under Tier 1.

Environmental Assets and Actions

Farmers, who do not have Priority Environmental Assets but whose lands include a Vulnerable Water Area, may apply for access to the scheme under Tier 2.

An applicant may still qualify for Tier 2 access if one of the following actions are chosen and planned for:

  • Low emission slurry spreading;
  • Minimum tillage;
  • Green cover establishment from a sown crop;
  • Wild bird cover (grassland farms only).
Hen Harrier
Image: BirdWatch Ireland

General Actions
These general actions seek to enhance the climate change, water quality and biodiversity benefits delivered.

For low input permanent pasture, some of the options include traditional hay meadow, planting new hedgerows and arable margins.

*A selection process will be used to allow farmers join GLAS by means of these actions if there is a shortfall in the take-up of Tier 1 and Tier 2 actions.

GLAS Tranche 1 – Key Facts

  • 180,000ha of permanent pasture will be conserved
  • 8,000km of water courses will be protected
  • 40,000ha of endangered bird habitat will be brought under sustainable management
  • 50,000ha of other privately-owned Natura habitat will be protected
  • 2,700 commonages (nearly 60% of all commonages in the country) will be brought under new Commonage

Tranche 1 GLAS Payments

Below are the details of Tranche 1 payments under GLAS. It outlines the various actions a farmer can undertake and the payment they will receive for taking such actions.

Tranche 1 Glas Payments
Tranche 1 Glas Payments

Who can apply to GLAS?

Any farmer in Ireland can apply to GLAS but applications are being graded on a Tier system.

Under the GLAS scheme, priority is been given to different ‘tier’ farmers, with priority given to Tier 1 farmers, then Tier 2 and then Tier 3.

What is a Tier 1 farmer? 

A Tier 1 farmer, under GLAS, means that you have one of the following criteria on your farm:

  • Natura Sites (privately owned SAC or SPA)
  • Commonages >10ha
  • High Status Water Area (bovines only)
  • Farmland BirdsRare breeds (registered in 2012/2013)

Also in Tier 1, but after the farmers listed with the conditions above, are intensive farmers (dairy, beef, sheep farms). They can also qualify for priority access to GLAS, if they have a whole farm stocking rate of over 140kg N/ha, or tillage farmers can qualify if they have more than 30ha of arable crops.

To qualify they must choose one of the following options:

  • Low emission slurry spreading or
  • Wild bird cover (1ha)

Tillage farmers with over 30ha of arable crops can choose:

  • Minimum tillage (10ha) or
  • Catch crops (10ha)

Finally, registered organic farmers are also eligible under Tier 1 entry.

What is a Tier 2 farmer?

If there is still availability in the scheme, after the above demand has been met, then Tier 2 farmers will be given access to GLAS.

You are considered a Tier 2 farmer if you:

  • Do not have Priority Environmental Assets but do have land with a Vulnerable Water Area; or,
  • If you don’t have a Vulnerable Water Area, an applicant may still qualify for Tier 2 access provided one of the following actions are chosen and planned for:
  • Minimum Tillage (arable farm < 30 ha )
  • Catch Crops Establishment from a Sown Crop (arable farm < 30 ha)
  • Low Emission Slurry Spreading (livestock farm < 140kg N/ha)
  • Wild Bird Cover (grassland farm < 140 kg N/ha )

Note: It is not guaranteed that all eligible applicants in Tier 2 will get into the Scheme and a scoring matrix will apply if necessary.

What is a Tier 3 farmer?

Tier 3 farmers will be those who do not meet the above criteria but who can adopt options to fulfil the criteria.

DSCN7609What are the Key Dates for GLAS?

GLAS applications for tranche 3 opened in November 2016 and the deadline for applications is in six weeks time, in mid-December.

Tranche 1 opened in March 2015 and the first deadline for farmers was April 30 2015.

Tranche 2 opened in October 2015 and will close in mid-November 2015.

When can you Expect your Payments?

The first payments from the Department of Agriculture were notified to farmers in October 2015 and the first payments will began soon after this.

For farmers who applied to Tranche 2, their application was processed in 2015 and they were deemed to start GLAS from January 2016. They are expected to receive their first payment before the end of 2016.

GLAS Tranche 2

The second tranche of GLAS, was launched by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney on October 19, 2015.

It comes after the first tranche of GLAS, closed on May 26, 2015, which attracted almost 27,000 applications. The Minister said Tranche 2 will increase this to at least 35,000 and up to 40,000.

GLAS Tranche 2 – What’s not available?

One of the most popular measures in GLAS – planting new hedgerows – is not available to GLAS applicants in Tranche 2.

As part of GLAS Tranche 1, farmers who applied for this were eligible for €5/m of new hedgerow planted.

The planting of traditional orchards is also set to be cut from the scheme. Under this measure farmers were able to claim €23.25 per tree planted.

Another change under tranche 2 of the scheme includes a reduction in the maximum land eligible as Low Input Permanent Pasture (LIPP). This is being cut from 10ha to 5ha under the latest version of GLAS.

GLAS Tranche 2 – Who will get in?

GLAS Tranche 2 is expected to fill its 13,000 places. Those who are most likely to get in include Tier 1 farmers, such as those with commonage, organic farmers and those with rare breeds.

What about Planting Under GLAS?

Some 2,000 new groves of native trees options are established under GLAS.

In Ireland and under GLAS, a native tree is one that got to Ireland before the last Ice Age occurred and without the help of man.

Recommended native trees for wet sites, according to Teagasc, include the Common Alder, Willow or the Downy Birch. These trees thrive in wet, boggy conditions and are ideally suited to establish a grove in these conditions. They will also help to dry up the surrounding site, which may allow different species to grow.

For sandy or dry sites, Teagasc recommends the Scots Pine as it thrives in wind exposed sandy soils in particular along the coast.

For more fertile sites, it recommends Holly, Crab Apple or Sessile Oak; these trees require higher nutrients, a more sheltered site and free draining soils to establish successfully.

The Sessile Oak is also recommended by Teagasc for difficult or challenging sites as it prefers rocky conditions to grow in.

For limestone sites, the Spindle and Hazel are suggested by Teagasc. The hazel trees are commonly associated with the Burren in Co.Clare which is known for its limestone soils and demonstrates the conditions it requires to grow.

Ash tree

Still have more questions on GLAS?

If you still have more questions about GLAS, we outline 20 frequently asked questions about GLAS including why a river that was good enough for REPS is not good enough for GLAS.

We also look at GLAS questions such as whether you can change your options when you’re in the scheme and everything you need to know about catch crops.

We also have details about nutrient management plans and information for those renting land and looking to go into GLAS.

How Do I Apply For GLAS?

If you are looking to join the GLAS scheme you must apply to the Department of Agriculture through a Teagasc advisor in your area or a private agricultural consultant.

How do I leave GLAS?

Farmers can leave GLAS after being approved, but the must write to the Department of Agriculture to confirm that they want to exit the scheme..

The Department of Agriculture said farmers have two weeks after initial notification to inform them of their decision to withdraw from the first tranche of GLAS.