This week Scottish Government provided more information on greening to clarify some of the detail in their greening FAQ.
Greening measures clarified include:
- Under cross compliance, or Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GEAC) requirements in Scotland, farmers must not plough or apply fertiliser or pesticides (except for spot-treatment for injurious weeds) within two metres of the centre line of a hedge or the top of the bank of a watercourse/ water body. The Scottish Government has clarified the new GAEC rules on cultivation next to hedges will only come into force for crops sown after January 1, 2015
- A mandatory European one-month extension to the no-cutting period for hedges during the bird nesting season, which will now run from March 1 to August 31.
- A European requirement that farmers must not burn stubble except for plant health purposes – a practice that is no longer common in Scotland
- A significant reduction in the number of new cross compliance requirements from Europe. As a result, the overall number of Scottish GAEC requirements will reduce from 21 to seven
- Fallow for EFA purposes must be set aside between 15 January to 15 July
- Spring cereal crop undersown with grass will count under the Catch Crops category of Ecological Focus Areas – an important point for many livestock producers with some arable area
- The requirement to grow more than one Nitrogen Fixing Crop if it is to count as Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs) will apply from 2016.
The Cabinet Secretary also announced the Scottish Government will commission independent research into farming and the environment in Scotland. A short-term scientific study will, alongside the views of stakeholders, inform future Scottish Government decisions on Greening while a longer-term monitoring project will look at the wider impacts of Greening on the environment and agriculture.