The Government’s Climate Action Plan aims to increase the incorporation of cover crops in tillage to “at least 50,000 hectares by 2030” and the incorporation of straw to “at least 10% of tillage area” by 2030.

The targets follow the funding announced in Budget 2022 last month and that allocated for the sector’s environmental measures under CAP Pillar II.

The Straw Incorporation Measure recently became a permanent fixture for the tillage sector and was allocated funding of €50m or €10m/annum under the proposed new CAP’s Pillar II.

Straw incorporation ambition

The ambition behind the scheme was outlined in the Government’s Climate Action Plan launched on Thursday, with Department of Agriculture officials noting a target to “reach at least 10% of tillage area by 2030”.

It should be noted that the Straw Incorporation Measure applies to cereal and oilseed rape crops.

The scheme, which focuses on improving organic matter levels and retaining carbon on tillage ground, received almost 2,000 applications in 2021, with 38,668ha designated under the scheme as of 3 June.

It is understood a number of farmers dropped out of the scheme since then in order to provide straw where needed for livestock farmers.

The scheme is expected to deliver an average payment in excess of €4,000/farmer this year.

Cover crop increase

The Climate Action Plan also includes a target to increase the incorporation of cover crops in tillage to at least 50,000ha by 2030.

Department officials reported that 30,000ha is currently under such cover.

Funding for cover crop incorporation is currently allocated under GLAS and is likely to have to continue under a new environmental scheme if farmers are to be incentivised to increase the area planted to these crops on their land.