After continued requests from the industry, this week saw the Scottish Government announce further detail regarding the implementation of greening.
The government has decided that cutting but not grazing will be permitted on EFA buffer strips and that Nitrogen Fixing Crops will count as EFA if: there is no harvesting before August 1, in order to protect ground-nesting birds; they are surrounded by an EFA field margin where adjacent to the edge of a field; there are two different Nitrogen Fixing Crops on the EFA area, to extend the flowering period for pollinators, with the main crop covering no more than 75 per cent of the total area of Nitrogen Fixing Crop declared as EFA.
David Seed, Chairman of Scottish Land & Estates Primary Industry Policy Committee said:
“While Scottish Land & Estates is supportive of the principle of delivering more public goods through the CAP, we disagree with how the Scottish Government is choosing to implement things in Scotland. It seems pointless to include Nitrogen Fixing Crops in the list of practices that can count towards the EFA requirement if the rules surrounding them are so impractical as to make their adoption unlikely. The late cropping date, the requirement to be adjacent to a field margin and the requirement to grow two crops make the use of Nitrogen Fixing Crops totally impractical”.
“We understand the intention of seeking to make sure that Nitrogen Fixing Crops that are grown as part of the EFA requirement deliver more for biodiversity, but there has to be a balance between strong rules that are designed to help wildlife and practical farming. If the rules are so strong that they mean that Nitrogen Fixing Crops are not utilised as part of the EFA requirement then it would seem to be self-defeating”.
“The impractical nature of the rules will be compounded by the fact that the equivalent rules in England are not so strict. The result is likely to be a change in the market for Nitrogen Fixing Crops which will make it even less attractive to utilise this option. It is disappointing that the Scottish Government has chosen to go down this route.
The new rules can be found in the updated Greening FAQs here: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0045/00459521.pdf