Approval letters will begin to issue from this Friday to the 5,000 farmers selected to participate in the Results-Based Environment Agri Pilot Programme (REAP).
Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has announced that an extra 3,000 places have been secured in the scheme for farmers.
“I’m hugely excited about the REAP project, as it helps us, farmers and advisers to identify the value we can bring to our next national agri-environmental scheme by trialling some measures now.
“It will identify the environmental and biodiversity returns from specific farm measures, while delivering a key new income to farmers.
"It will of course also provide meaningful payments to farmers, with up to €12,600 potentially over the course pilot,” he said.
Over 10,800 farmers had applied for the original 2,000 places available under the scheme.
The Minister has said he is delighted to see the huge level of interest and to be able to increase the participation numbers by an extra 3,000 above the initial proposal.
“I’d like to thank the European Commission for their engagement on this over the last few weeks and for recognising the benefits of the project and we will continue to work closely with them on its implementation to help inform design of the next CAP.”
The increased numbers in the scheme will lead to a significant level of training at farmer and adviser level and will also ensure that the results-based scoring system is tested by a significant sample of Irish farms, the Department said.
The farmers selected will now work with their advisers to score the land brought into REAP this year to establish its environmental and biodiversity status.
In conjunction with their adviser, farmers will undertake environmental commitments to increase the environmental value of existing farm features, with the aim of improving the environmental score in year two.
Farms with the highest scoring will receive the greatest payment.
REAP will provide an opportunity to test the results-based model on a national basis in preparation for the next agri-environment scheme to follow on from GLAS, the Department said.
“REAP will help demonstrate the environmental value and economic returns from specific farm measures and allows a more focused use of funding - a win-win outcome, for both the environment and farmers.
“This significant level of investment in developing on-farm, agri-environment measures shows the commitment of farmers and this Government to achieving our ambitious environmental goals while investing in farm incomes.
“I would encourage all farmers selected for participation to fully engage with the process by working closely with their adviser,” he said.