6,000 tillage farmers worked off 2 and 3-crop rule in 2017

According to data from the 2017 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), approximately 6,000 farmers were obligated under the two and three-crop rule. The department did not specify how many farmers were obliged to grow three crops in 2017.

Approximately 14,000 farmers declared more than 2ha of tillage land in the same year.

Tillage land is defined as land used to grow cereals, root crops and protein crops – among others. Arable land includes: tillage crops; temporary grassland; and fallow land.

This season’s estimates

Preliminary results from the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine indicates a decrease of 5% in the main tillage crops sown this year compared to 2017.

All winter crops saw a decline in acreage this season, while spring wheat, spring oats, protein crops and potato crop acreages all declined.

Spring barley, beet and maize acreages have all been estimated to increase. Maize saw the biggest increase; acreage is estimated to have increased by 40%.

Three-crop rule

The three-crop rule does not apply to Ireland this year as the Department of Agriculture sought and secured a derogation from the EU Commission, due to the poor weather conditions in both autumn and spring.

Many farmers did not meet their target winter cropping acreage and when the bad weather persisted into the spring time, cropping options decreased for many farmers.

Requirements for compliance under the Crop Diversification provisions of the Greening scheme:
  • Those farmers with more than 75% grassland and less than 30ha of arable land are exempt from the greening provisions, as are farmers with less than 10ha of arable land;
  • Farmers with less than 75% grassland and between 10 and 30ha of arable land are required to have two crops – the main crop must not exceed 75%;
  • Those with more than 30ha of arable land are required to have three crops, with the main crop not exceeding 75% and the two main crops not exceeding 95%.