In the period from 2016 to 2020, only 11 farmers received payments under the agroforestry grant scheme.

The agroforestry scheme, under the Afforestation Grant & Premium Scheme, offers farmers the option to apply for a grant to facilitate a combination of forestry and pasture farming.

The grant aid is set at €6,220/ha, with premiums paid over five years at a rate of €645/ha.

A minimum area of 0.5 hectares is required and trees can be planted singly, in groups or in rows.

However, despite the wide range of benefits that apply to agroforestry and the grants that are available, the uptake among farmers in Ireland remains staggeringly low.

Four payments

Last year, only four farmers received payments under the scheme - one in Meath, one in Galway and two in Monagahan.

The four farmers had a combined land usage of just under 15ha for agroforestry, which resulted in a collective payment of around €9,500.

The grant requires farmers to regulate livestock, but controlled grazing by sheep and cattle is permitted.

The trees on the land must be properly secured and protected by a fence, barrier or covering to stop damage by livestock.

Silage and hay production is also permitted and trees are planted at a reduced stocking rate per hectare.

The trees that are deemed acceptable species under the scheme include oak, sycamore and cherry. However, other species can be considered.

These are payments that have been issued to date for agroforestry (GPC11) under the current forestry programme.