Farmers are being urged to apply for a new pilot environment scheme, Results-Based Environment-Agri Pilot Project (REAP), before the May 10 deadline.
REAP is a two-year Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) initiative, that will pay farmers for the maintenance and improvement of environmental conditions of their land.
Teagasc countryside management specialist, Catherine Keena, is advising farmers who would like to take part in the new scheme should make an expression of interest prior to the May 10 deadline.
This must be done through a DAFM-approved REAP advisor and local Teagasc office.
REAP is a ‘results-based’ approach to agri-environment schemes that will prepare farmers, advisors and the DAFM for the next Rural Development Programme (RDP).
The scheme will see between 2ha and 10ha scored in year one to establish its environmental condition, with a view to increasing that environmental score in year two.
Eligible fields must have been on the farmer’s Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) in 2020 and must be in grass.
REAP will focus on improving existing farm features rather creating new features and habitats. Farms with higher environmental scores will receive larger payments.
Catherine Keena explained:
“The associated advisor will walk these grass fields in June or July and score each field with the farmer using one of two scorecards: one for low-input grassland (LIG) or one for multi-species ley (MSL). The score determines the level of payment.
“The advisor will also discuss with the farmer the option of planting trees or hedges.”
What’s the score?
The field score is based on:
- The number and abundance of grass and non-grass species;
- The extent of field boundaries including hedges, stone walls, earth banks and watercourses;
- The width of grassy margins – either one, two or three metres, and an additional five-metre option for MSL.
Payment comprises three elements:
- A participation payment of €1,200/year for the farmer’s time and advisor costs;
- An optional once-off payment for planting trees and hedges – €1,200 in one of the two years, with €9.20/tree up to 130 trees or €15.80/m of hedge up to 76m;
- A field-score payment for LIG or MSL.
For LIG, payments can range from €250-€400/ha, with a top-up of €50/ha for late-mown meadows cut after July 1. This gives a maximum payment of €4,500 (10ha LIG plus late-mown meadow for a score of 10/10).
For MSL, payments can range from €125-€275/ha based on a score of 4/10. This gives a maximum payment of €2,750 (10ha MSL for a score of 10/10).
Overall, the maximum payment is €6,900 in the same year that trees and hedges are planted, and €5,700 in the other year for a score of 10/10.
- Average payments will be significantly less than the maximum possible payments;
- Farmers in GLAS, EIPs or Organics cannot participate;
- Tillage fields or peatland with heather are not eligible;
- Entry is not guaranteed;
- The scheme duration spans 2021 and 2022.