Applications are now open for the €5 million pilot Farm Environmental Study (FES), the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) has confirmed.
The measure will provide participating farmers with an opportunity to learn more about the habitats and biodiversity on their lands, which will be recorded, mapped and assessed by trained farm advisors.
The data collected will outline to farmers the work practices that are sensitive to nature on their individual holding.
In recognition of their time, the department said that participating farmers will be paid €200, following the advisor’s successful upload of their FES results.
The study has been funded under the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) transition period.
The Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA) has been awarded the contract for the training of farm advisors on FES surveying and mapping.
Around 6,000 farm habitat surveys will be carried out which will begin the process of building a baseline database of farm level habitat and biodiversity.
The information gathered will also be used for future agri-environmental policy, schemes and measures.
The surveys are due to begin towards the middle of the year, with results to be presented to DAFM in the final quarter of the year.
The department said that the pilot study is open to all farmers in any part of the country.
Applications must be submitted by farmers through the department’s online application portal – www.agfood.ie – by the closing date of May 27, 2022.
Opening the measure, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue said:
“Having a baseline knowledge of the biodiversity resources we have on our farms is essential going forward.
“In order to tackle the challenges of the future, we first must know the potential of the present and the FES is central to this new era we are facing into.”
Minister of State with responsibility for Land Use and Biodiversity, Senator Pippa Hackett also welcomed the opening of pilot study:
“The FES will allow farmers to engage with farm advisers to better understand and appreciate the habitats and biodiversity value of their own land, and to tailor their farm management accordingly.
“I would strongly encourage any farmer interested in farming with nature in mind to get involved,” the minister said.