Grass measuring equipment will be eligible for grant aid under the latest tranche of the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme II (TAMS II), AgriLand has learnt.

Officials from the Department of Agriculture, along with senior members of Macra na Feirme, are expected to launch the initiative at Moorepark ’17 later today.

Farmers who are successful in applying for TAMS II will be eligible to receive grant aid of up to 40% for the purchase of some grass measuring equipment; this is thought to include ‘Grasshoppers’.

The grant aid threshold increases to 60% for those qualifying as a young farmer under the scheme.

Last year, Macra na Feirme presented a submission to the Minister for Agriculture that sought an amendment to the Rural Development Programme to have grazing infrastructure included under TAMS II.

Macra said that improvements in grazing infrastructure will help extend the grazing season on all farms, but particularly on farms with more marginal land – allowing for more grass to be utilised.

The submission proposes that all farmers under 40 years of age would be eligible for 60% grant aid, with a maximum investment ceiling of €80,000.

The news will come as a boost to farmers willing to make investments in grass measuring equipment.

In late June, AgriLand reported that just one in every 500 farmers is on PastureBase Ireland (PBI).

PBI has been in operation since January 2013 and, since then, drystock farms that are measuring regularly have grown 10.5-12.3t DM/ha a year.

There are 200 drystock farmers on PBI out of a total of 100,000. That means drystock farms account for just 10-15% of all farms using PBI.

As well as storing valuable data on grass grown, PBI stores background data such as paddock soil fertility, grass/clover cultivar, aspect, altitude, reseeding history, soil type, drainage characteristics and fertiliser applications.