Recent European ruling have seen changes to the use of PPPs on Ecological Focus Areas and therefore causing many farms to re adjust their cropping because of this.
At the moment, it is unclear as to what other changes will be made to each option apart from not being allowed to use PPP’s. Having spoken to Defra they are also as unsure as to what other changes will be enforced or when an announcement will be made, and therefore we have been told to work on the current rules as for 2017. Therefore, we are hopeful that fallow ground can still be managed through mowing and cultivations to help control problem weeds.
It is worth noting that Catch crops have to be drilled by the 31st August and can be removed by the 1st October, and therefore may prove a good option to farms that have the capabilities of drilling before the 31st August. This has to be made up of one cereal crop (wheat not included) and one non-cereal crop, so farms growing spring barley and Oats may be able to utilise volunteers after harvest to reduce cost of establishment. Cover crops must be drilled by the 1st October and must remain in place up till the 15th January but may prove an attractive option for maintaining soil cover.
For farms with watercourses around fields, buffer strips are an effective way to achieve the EFA area required, and managed hedgerows are also an attractive option, however there is some concern over delayed payments.
Nitrogen fixing crops also include forage legumes, so for farms with livestock this may prove a very cost-effective way to produce high protein forage as well as achieving the EFA area required.
When further information is released we will keep you informed on management options for each option and what the best options are for each on farm scenarios.
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