Ministers Hackett and McConalogue launch Multi Species Sward Measure
Press Release 25 March 2022
Following on from the package of measures announced earlier this week to provide support to Irish farmers, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, T.D., and the Minister for Land Use and Biodiversity, Senator Pippa Hackett, today launched the first element of the package, the Multi Species Swards Measure.
Launching the measure, Minister McConalogue said, “As part of our response to the cost increases currently facing Irish farmers, I am delighted to launch this measure which will encourage the sowing of multi-species swards. Multi-species swards are proven to reduce our dependency on chemical nitrogen while maintaining forage output and I am very confident there will be strong farmer interest in this initiative.”
Minister continued by saying, “I am particularly pleased with the co-operation we have received from our Independent Agri-retailers and Co-operatives who will play a vital role in the operation of the measure.”
Research has shown that multi-species swards can have a positive impact from a climate, biodiversity, and water quality perspective, as well as supporting improved livestock productive efficiency, while also reducing dependence on expensive chemical nitrogen. Subject to farmer uptake and seed availability, it is anticipated that the measure will establish approximately 12,000ha of Multi-Species Swards.
The Measure will be delivered by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in co-operation with participating Agri-retailers and Co-operatives throughout the country.
Minister of State Pippa Hackett, who has responsibility for Land Use and Biodiversity also strongly welcomed the measure. She said, “The roll out of this measure will off-set some of the costs of establishing a multi-species sward. This is a welcome development in what will undoubtedly be a challenging year for the farming sector. The use of multi-species swards can have a positive impact on emissions and water quality, as well as providing other environmental benefits such as enhanced biodiversity, particularly through pollinators feeding on the variety of flowering plants in multi-species swards”.
Minister Hackett concluded by saying, “Research on multi-species swards has also shown greater resilience to drought, while trials carried out in UCD have demonstrated improved anthelmintic properties around lamb production, which is an important element of our One Health Strategy. The different species in the mix will have a complementary impact at various stages of the growing season with the potential to enhance overall fodder production.”
Farmers wishing to apply for the Multi Species Swards Measure should apply through www.agfood.ie by the closing date of 4th April 2022.
The Department has confirmed it is working to develop the other initiatives announced in this week’s package, including the Red Clover Silage Measure. Further details on these will follow.
How does this benefit farmers?
This Measure will provide a financial contribution to participating Co-op/Agri-merchants to offset part of the cost that farmers will incur in the purchase of multi-species sward seed. Upon fully documented verification of eligibility, a payment contribution rate of €50 per 12kg bag of multi-species sward seed will apply to approved applicants purchasing the dedicated multi-species sward seed mixture. This seed mixture includes six species with the species mix determined by the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine in consultation with industry, scientific and research experts.
The Measure will cover seed purchased from the farmer’s date of approval until 31st August 2022.
This Measure is being introduced by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to promote environmentally sustainable methods of farming, which will have a positive impact on climate, biodiversity and water quality.
Research carried out on multi-species swards has shown positive results on low nitrogen input plots which has the potential to provide a more environmentally friendly production system allowing for increased Carbon sequestration while simultaneously reducing nitrous oxide emissions.
This measure is anticipated to have a positive impact on targets under the EU Green Deal strategies including the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategy. In addition, it will contribute to the targets set in the Climate Action Plan 2021. This includes the significant ambition to reduce Ireland’s dependence on nitrogen fertiliser, while simultaneously aiming to achieve a reduction in agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions by between 22 and 30% by 2030.
This is an innovative measure which aims to establish approximately 12,000 ha of multi-species grassland.
How will the programme operate?
Perspective applicants should read the Terms and Conditions published online.
The farmer or his/her advisor will sign up to participate in the Multi Species Swards Measure through www.agfood.ie
The applicant/advisor will select the LPIS parcels where the Multi-Species seed will be planted.
They will then indicate what quantity of seed they wish to purchase.
Successful applicants will receive an Approval Letter from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. This will state the approved quantity of seed that may be purchased under the Measure.
At time of purchase the farmer will bring their Approval letter to an approved Co-op/Agri-retailer where they will purchase the multi-species seed. This form will be signed and stamped by the Co-op/Agri retailer and farmer indicating the amount of seed actually purchased.
The Co-op/Agri-retailer will apply to the Department for re-imbursement of the discount applied to the price of the Multi-Species seed sold to approved farmers under the Measure.
Payment will be made directly to the Agri-retailer/Co-op, based on returns they submit to the Department.