Settled weather between now and mid-March will be key in determining the uptake of the new Coupled Aid Scheme for Protein Crops, according to Teagasc Crop Specialist, Tim O’Donovan.

Some €250/ha will be available to tillage farmers to grow protein crops, through the new scheme announced by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney last year.

O’Donovan said subject to a window of settled weather over the period up to St Patrick’s Day there will potentially huge demand for the option among tillage farmers.

“The fact that protein crops will have the added advantage of being a third crop of purposes of greening and also qualifies as an Ecological Focus Area (EFA) could well see many farmers make the jump to beans,” he said.

O’Donovan also said it is likely to be May or June post receipt of applications for the Basic Payment Scheme before there an accurate determination of the amount of farmers that applied for the Scheme can be made.

The Minister has set aside €3m of the National Ceiling for the Coupled Aid. The rate of payment will be €250/ha provided a ceiling of €3m is not exceeded in any scheme year.

The protein crops eligible for aid will peas, beans and sweet lupins.

Referring to the importance of protein crops a a break crop in the context of crop rotation, the Minister said that there is now an incentive for the industry and all relevant stakeholders to grow this sector by developing crop varieties that are best suited for Irish conditions coupled with more stable market outlets.

“That a consistent supply of protein, grown in Ireland, would potentially give Irish livestock farmers the opportunity to use more natively produced protein feed and to market their produce in higher value markets,” he said.