Farmers are being urged to “carefully assess” the details of the Straw Incorporation Measure (SIM), which opened for applications today (Monday, March 22).

The purpose of the measure is to support tillage farmers who decide to chop and incorporate straw into the soil after harvest.

The opening of the scheme has been welcomed by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), whose grain chairperson, Mark Browne, said that the measure would “allow farmers to plan accordingly”.

Browne encouraged prospective participating farmers to examine the specifics of the scheme.

“The measure will encourage tillage farmers to increase soil organic carbon levels by chopping and incorporating straw from combinable crops,” he explained.

“Apart from the environmental aspect of the scheme, it is also an acknowledgement by the government of the income pressure in the sector, with the introduction of a Pillar II scheme [of the Common Agricultural Policy] for the first time,” Browne added.

The IFA grain chairperson noted that the inclusion of oilseed rape – albeit at a lower rate of payment – was “very welcome”.

Farmers should carefully assess the details of the scheme and our advice is to keep your application within the 40ha limit.

“The flexibilities in the scheme regarding the switching of parcels and withdrawals post-application are important to have the maximum take-up and ensure limited market disruption,” Browne said.

He urged farmers to engage in the spirit and objectives of the scheme “in order for it to continue in subsequent years”.