The Department of Agriculture held an information webinar on Friday night on the impending Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES).

The event provided an overview of ACRES, outlining general and co-operation entry routes and touched on the measures involved.

The presentations also included a number of case studies which in the main included plans capable of drawing down the maximum rate of payment of €7,311, or close to the maximum payment, in the general entry route and similar in the co-operation entry route where the maximum payment attainable is €10,500. These are summarised below.

In this farm sustainability plan, the applicant avails of Tier 1 priority status due to Natura lands and selects a mandatory action.

The low-input grassland is scored at six from a range of zero to 10 and this is assumed as the average based on the Results-based Environment-Agri Pilot (REAP).

The farmer also cuts this after 1 July and avails of the late meadow bonus. They also max out the payment in the extensively grazed pasture option.

In this case study the applicant enters the general entry route via Tier 2 as they possess land in a vulnerable water area.

There are three options selected which would satisfy the mandatory action required under this entry route in Tier 2.

Again, grassland measures are the big player here in setting the base for a high payment.

This example is a farmer with a grassland stocking rate in excess of 130kg organic nitrogen/ha.

This affords the application entry via Tier 2 and the mandatory action selected is grass margins grassland of 2m in width.

The big driver of the payment here is planting a new hedgerow, which has a higher cost of compliance than the previous two case studies and will leave this application with a lower payment in years one and two in particular.

The fact that the Department’s options include applicants entering via Tier 1 and Tier 2 would lead you to believe this is where they think applications need to be to gain entry, especially in Tranche 1.

This case study is a tillage farmer who enters via Tier 2 by merit of having more than 30ha of arable lands and selects over-winter stubble as the mandatory option.

The winter bird food plot of 3ha provides the foundation for payment here and this suits tillage farmers better than livestock as they are likely to have lower costs of compliance.

Farmers on the webinar were told that there is a broad range of measures to suit tillage farmers.

Case study 5 is another tillage farmer who gains entry via Tier 2 due to the size of their enterprise.

Two options are selected, either of which would satisfy the mandatory Tier 2 option.

Here catch crops are the big-money earner, accounting for over 45% of the annual payment.

The combination of the grass margin and winter bird food strips was highlighted as being especially beneficial to birds such as the grey partridge.