Multi-Species Sward and Red Clover Silage Measures opened
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue T.D., has announced the opening of the 2023 Multi-Species Sward and Red Clover Silage Measures.
Launching the measures with a budget of €2.5m, Minister McConalogue said,
“As part of the Government’s commitment to facilitating Irish farmers further improve the sustainability of Irish agriculture, I am delighted to announce the re-opening of these two measures which will expand the areas already established under last year’s pilot programmes. I introduced the scheme last year to help farmers reduce their chemical fertiliser and it has proven to be successful.”
Minister of State Pippa Hackett, who has responsibility for Land Use and Biodiversity, also welcomed the opening of the measures.
“I’ve seen first-hand on farms across the country how effective multi-species swards can be. This is further evidence of the Government’s support for farmers who wish to move to more environmentally sustainable methods of farming. These swards will have a positive impact on greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity and water quality, while also providing a strong economic benefit to farmers”.
Minister McConalogue said
“Funding has been increased to €2.5m to allow for greater support in establishing these swards. A payment rate of up to €300/ha is also being provided for, which represents a significant increase on the rate of aid paid last year”.
The Minister also announced a number of key changes compared to last year’s Pilot Measures including:
Payments will be made directly to the approved farmer on a per hectare basis.
The payment rate has been increased significantly up to a potential €300 per hectare where eligible swards are established. A reduced payment rate per hectare will apply as appropriate if eligible applications exceed the available combined budget for the two measures.
To receive payment under either Measure, an applicant must indicate the correct crop type on their 2023 BISS application.
Trial work on Multi-Species Swards has shown positive results around low nitrogen fertiliser use which has a beneficial impact on reducing nitrous oxide emissions while reducing input costs for farmers.
The different rooting structures in these swards allow for improved soil structure along with a greater tolerance to drought conditions. While the species mix also benefits biodiversity.
Speaking in advance of a meeting of the National Fodder and Food Security group, Minister McConalogue highlighted the contribution these crops can make to provision of low cost feed and fodder on farms this year.
"Research on Red Clover Silage has shown that due to its nitrogen fixing ability, these swards are higher in protein than conventional silage and combined with their ability to yield over 14t DM/ha will assist farmers in reducing their concentrate feed bills while also benefiting the environment and reducing GHG emissions. "
Welcoming the opening of the scheme, Minister of State with responsibility for research and innovation Martin Heydon T.D., said:
“The significant investment in research to date has shown the economic potential that multi-species swards offer farmers and will help give farmers confidence to embrace these newer sward types. I encourage farmers to look at these measures and take advantage of the environmental and economic benefits they provide”.