More than 10,000ha of land will be under multi-species swards by the end of 2022, as a result of the multi-species sward (MSS) measure which closed for applications on April 14.

The Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has said that a total area of 10,217ha will be sown with these swards this year, however this falls short of the government’s 12,000ha target, which was set out when the scheme was announced in March.

Minister McConalogue’s comments came in response to a parliamentary question from Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy last week, when he stated that 1,691 of the 1,715 applications received were approved.

He added that 24 applications to the €2 million measure were refused, mostly due to the applicants not meeting the minimum application area of 1ha, which was outlined in the terms and conditions.

Under the measure, approved applicants will receive a discount of €50 on each 12kg bag of the selected multi-species seed mix purchased from participating co-ops and agri-retailers. The scheme covers seed purchased from the farmer’s date of approval until August 31, this year.

The government’s contribution payments are made directly to the retailer. Speaking on the matter, Minister McConalogue said:

“Participating co-ops and agri-retailers can lodge up to two claims for payment. The first opportunity to lodge a claim for payment closes shortly with final claims for payment being accepted by my department up to October 1, 2022.”

The multi-species sward measure, which opened on March 29, this year, was the first element of a €12 million tillage support package aiming to support the production of more native crops and crops with a low demand for chemical fertiliser.

In addition to the MSS, the package encompasses the €10 million, Tillage Incentive Scheme and supports worth €3 million for protein crops such as peas, beans and lupins.