Options for arable farmers within the Environmental Farming Scheme

Date published: 11 September 2019

DAERA is encouraging arable farmers to consider the options within the Environmental Farming Scheme (EFS) Wider level which is currently open for application.

Provision of winter feed crop for wild birds.

A spokesperson outlined what’s available:

“EFS offers a range of arable options which are designed to enhance the biodiversity value of your farm with minimal impact on your cropping rotations or management.   

“Options which will benefit pollinator species in particular include the creation of pollinator margins and sowing these out with either with either a pollen and nectar or an annual wildflower mix.  The pollen and nectar mix must be kept in the same location for the length of the scheme but the annual wildflower margins can be rotated around cropped fields. 

“Other options which perhaps involve less input include the creation of 6m arable margins and either leaving these cultivated but uncropped or sowing them out with a rough grass mix but again the rough grass margin must remain in place for the duration of the scheme and should be cut or grazed each year. 

“Finally, why not create some field size bird tables on your farm through the provision of winter feed crops for wild birds or simply retaining fields in stubble over the winter? Previous schemes have demonstrated that these activities can really boost insect and bird populations on farms.”

The spokesperson also outlined the options to support organic farming under the scheme but warned that time is short:

“Organic or potential organic farmers can apply for options to help them maintain their organic production systems or to convert land into organic production. Information on these options is available online or via the Helpline number 0300 200 7842. But time is running out! The application window for all EFS Wider options is now open and will close on Friday 20 September so do some homework now and, if it suits your business, submit your application online before the 20 September.”

The full range of EFS options are available on the DAERA website. 

You should always read the relevant Information Sheet before applying for an option.

Applications can only be made online but help is available through the EFS Helpline number 0300 200 7842.

The Environmental Farming Scheme is part funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).

Notes to editors: 

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