New changes are coming down the track for Irish tillage farmers this year in the form of the new Straw Incorporation Measure and a new Area Monitoring System – which will be rolled out for all area-based schemes in the coming years, according to Teagasc.

Galway-based Teagasc drystock and tillage advisor John Galvin highlighted what farmers should know about the new straw scheme and farm payments this year.

First off, he assured: “There are no changes to the BPS [Basic Payment Scheme] greening requirements for 2021. Crop diversification applies for over 10ha of arable crops and ecological focus areas apply for over 15ha of arable crops.

Straw Incorporation Measure

“There is a new Straw Incorporation Measure (SIM) scheme that is designed to encourage farmers to increase soil organic carbon levels by chopping and incorporating straw from cereal crops,” he said.

This will include winter and spring wheat; winter and spring barley; winter and spring oats; winter and spring oilseed rape; and rye, he added.

There is a minimum eligible area of 5ha and maximum of 40ha with a proposed payment of €250/ha, subject to EU and DAFM final approval of terms and conditions.

“Application for this scheme can be made whilst submitting the basic payment form which must be submitted on-line.”

Continuing, the advisor noted that the protein payment scheme remains in place for 2021 for eligible crops, namely peas, beans and lupins, with a ceiling of €3 million. The 2020 protein payment was finalised at €215/ha.

“What is new with regard to protein crops is that they are going to be monitored rather than checked by means of an Area Monitoring System (AMS) for 2021,” Galvin said.

Eye in the sky

The advisor noted that there are four of the “eyes in the sky” – satellites – orbiting the earth every five days, which are now being phased into use.

The new much awaited Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) regulation that has yet to be finalised states that a new Area Monitoring System (AMS) will be mandatory on all claimed lands by January 1, 2024, he added.

As a transitional or phasing in of the AMS, protein crops will be monitored in 2021 by this method.

The AMS is a system that provides “regular and systematic observation, tracking and assessment of agricultural activities and practices on agricultural area by Copernicus Sentinel Satellite data or other data with at least equivalent value”.

The main objective of the AMS is to verify an activity over a given agricultural area, with the main drivers being minimising non-compliance, reducing administration and inspection controls and providing data for policy monitoring and implementation in the future, Galvin concluded.