Improve water quality by applying for EFS

Date published: 18 August 2020

Do you know you can apply for grant support through the Environmental Farming Scheme (EFS) to protect watercourses on your farm?

Water quality options have been very popular thus far with over half of farmers choosing water quality options in their EFS agreements.

Although the watercourse stabilisation with fencing option is not available this year, there are four other water quality options, known as riparian buffer strips, available to choose from. 

Riparian buffer strips involve fencing off a strip of land along a watercourse and allowing the natural vegetation to grow.  Buffer strips improve water quality because they reduce the risk of nutrient, manure, sediment and pesticide run-off and prevent livestock accessing the watercourse. 

Applicants have a choice of 2 metre or 10 metre wide riparian buffer strips which can be planted with clumps of native trees if required.  When planted with trees the buffer strips provide the additional benefits of reduced peak flood flow and increased bank stability but they should not be planted on existing flood defence banks.

Remember choosing to put in a riparian margin does not mean you lose that land for Basic Payment.  The Basic Payment Scheme can be claimed for the length of the scheme agreement if Single Farm Payment was claimed and paid on the land in 2008.

In addition if you choose a water quality option at EFS application, a range of capital items may then also be selected including a pasture pump, drinking trough, trough base, pipe work and/or gates.

Tranche 4 of the Environmental Farming Scheme Wider Level (EFS) is open for applications until midnight Friday 11 September 2020.

Download more information on the scheme from the DAERA website.

Please read these carefully before selecting your options!

Notes to editors: 

  1. DAERA has announced the EFS Wider Level will open for applications on Mon 17 August to 11 September 2020. Applications must be submitted via DAERA's online services portal.
  2. For further information or advice on EFS please telephone 0300 200 7848 or email
  3. The Environmental Farming Scheme is part funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).
  4. Whilst the watercourse stabilisation with fencing option is not available for Tranche 4 there remains four water quality options to choose from.
  5. Follow DAERA on Twitter and Facebook.
  6. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office.
  7. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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