One of the most popular measures in GLAS – planting new hedgerows – is set to be cut as an option for farmers applying to the second tranche of the scheme.

Under the agri-environmental scheme, which was introduced earlier this year, farmers who applied in tranche 1, were eligible for €5/m of new hedgerow planted.

However, the measure will not be available to farmers who apply under tranche 2 which will be opened by the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney at the National Ploughing Championships on Wednesday.

The planting of traditional orchards is also set to be cut from the scheme. Under this measure farmers were able to claim €23.25 per tree planted. However, a shortage of suitable saplings has caused the measure to be removed.

Low Input Permanent Pasture area also to be cut

Other changes under tranche 2 of the scheme include a reduction in the maximum land eligible as Low Input Permanent Pasture (LIPP). This is being cut from 10ha to 5ha under the latest version of GLAS.

Catherine Keena, Countryside Management Specialist with Teagasc, said the emphasis in GLAS from now on will be on the Priority Environmental Assets – including commonage management plans, natural sites, farmland birds and rare breeds.

Commonage farmers, she said, would make or break the scheme in the next tranche. “There was the potential for 30,000 Tier 1 farmers to apply to the first tranche of the scheme, but in the end 10,000 Tier 3 farmers got in.”

This was not ideal, she said, as these farmers would predominately be applying for LIPP measures, not the Priority Environmental Assets. However, she said that four priority actions are not being taken up by enough farmers.