Irish government reveals payment rates for agri-environment schemes

The new Agri Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES) for Irish farmers will provide up to €7,300 maximum payment to farmers for general measures and will be a results-based scheme.

Companies are thought to receive an average payment of €5,000 for up to 50,000 family farms with higher payments for collaborative projects capped at €10,500. Farmers will be paid for measures such as the intensive grazing of 10 hectares, the sowing of a hectare of cover with winter birdseed, the planting of 500 meters of hedges or 300 trees are all part of the new .

Other measures include obtaining €1.20/m2 for spreading low-emission slurry or €2.87/m for coppicing hedges.

The largest payment is for the planting of half a hectare of a belt of trees near farm buildings for €2,500. The full payment rate will be determined once the farms have been inspected to assess the results of the actions in the third and fifth years of the program.

Low-input grazing assessments will be scored from 1 to 10, with €400/ha awarded to the highest-scoring fields and no payout for parks receiving less than four.

Inspectors will look for wildflowers, grasses and other biodiversity indicator species when assessing grasslands. During this time, marks will be removed for invasive plants and docks, thistles and nettles. Also for soils damaged by supplemental feeding and too many “agricultural favored species” like perennial ryegrass.

There will also be points deducted for the presence of brush on 25% of the land and any evidence of damage to waterways.

Winter crops for bird feed established by May 15 will benefit from a payment rate of €1,000/hectare for 0.25h to 3h. Riparian buffer zones receive €1,530 on grassland and €1,242 on arable land up to two hectares. Environmental management of up to five hectares can yield up to €5,235 per year when a shallow crop is needed in the spring and a catch crop is established each fall. The land should be kept fallow throughout the ACRES period.

Agriculture with minimum tillage can get 40 €/hectare up to 50 h. Brassica forage crops established before July 31 using minimum tillage techniques can get €120/h and catch crops before September 15 get €175/h.

Read more: NGOs want a step change from direct payments to agri-environment

Farmers with common pasture or grazing can earn up to €220/hr for high scores through environmentally friendly farming through low-input grazing or extensive grazing.

Farmers who switch to organic farming will also receive money. A 30-hour operation of dry, arable or dairy cattle could earn over €18,000 if it meets all environmental requirements when converting. The program is for small items like setting up barn owl nesting boxes at a rate of €36.48 per box up to two boxes.

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