Farmers will be permitted to cut some 70,000ha of hay meadows from next Thursday 1 July. The target for farmers who selected the measure as part of the Green Low Carbon Agri-Environmental Scheme (GLAS) is to save these meadows as hay.

However, in situations where hay cannot be made due to weather or other reasons, farmers are permitted to make silage.

But, if this option is being utilised, then grass must be turned at least twice before collecting.

The reason for this approach is to give seeds the best chance of being dispersed and ensuring swards maintain the required diversity of species.

A suitable traditional hay meadow must contain a minimum of three grass species, such as cocksfoot, timothy, bent grasses, fescues, sweet vernal, yorkshire fog (excluding ryegrasses) etc, which are widely dispersed in the LPIS parcel relevant to the measure.

REAP hay meadows

Farmers who have been accepted into the Results Based Environment Agri Pilot (REAP) also have the option of voluntarily opting to delay cutting of hay meadows until 1 July at the earliest.

A top-up payment of €50/ha is available for farmers who go with the timeline for cutting, ranging from 1 July to the end of August. Farmers can opt for the top-up measure in one or both years of the pilot project.

LIPP parcels

Wednesday 1 July also marks the date from which parcels selected as a low-input permanent pasture (LIPP) in GLAS can be topped. There is 280,000ha currently farmed under this measure. Topping is not permitted between 15 March and 1 July.

It can be carried out before or after this date and, along with spot-spraying or weed wiping/licking, is one of the permitted options for controlling rushes.