Although recent storms have given some much needed rain, the lack of soil moisture remains a concern. Aside from the immediate challenges with the current crop in the ground, attention is also turning to autumn crop establishment, particularly Oilseed Rape, which most would like to be established in August. Farmers are also concerned about the practicalities of meeting the requirements of their Basic Payments Scheme (BPS) and Stewardship Schemes. The recent guidance from The Rural Payments Agency and Natural England is timely.
Those who elected on the 2018 BPS application to use Catch Crops to meet their Ecological Focus Areas (EFA’s) have until 20th August to establish them. Although the guidance does not exempt the farmers from meeting their EFA obligations it does suggest some practical steps that can be followed in this continued dry spell..
For those in an Environmental Stewardship or Countryside Stewardship Scheme many grassland options do no permit supplementary feeding. With little or no grass growth many livestock producers have little option other than to feed hay or silage to supplement the diet. If this is the case, agreement holders will need to apply to Natural England for the necessary permission in order to avoid falling short of their obligation and risking penalties. Failed hedgerow or woodland planting as a result of the drought may require site specific advice. For those unfortunate enough to have experienced a field fire and lost hedgerow planting as a result, the guidance does state that Natural England should be informed within 15 working days of the fire.
Andrew Fundell, Partner.
The full RPA Update can be found here: https://bit.ly/2Ki6W6N