The Results Based Environment-Agri Pilot (REAP) scheme is a move away from previous schemes, with payments based on results as opposed to a prescribed choice of actions.
Advisers are integral to the running of the scheme, as they are responsible for submitting the information identifying the measures selected by the applicant, while they are also responsible for determining the level of payment which is based on a score card and field assessment.
There are two main measures on which the pilot is based - low input grassland (LIG) and mixed species ley (MSL).
The terms and conditions detail scorecard requirements, which are essentially baseline requirements which must be satisfied in order to be able to select it.
LIG scorecard requirements
To use the LIG scorecard, the following criteria is required to be satisfied:
Late meadow bonus
The late meadow bonus, which offers a payment of €50/ha, can only take place on LIG parcels.
Meadows must be closed up, with no grazing or machinery operations for at least six weeks prior to cutting.
The earliest date meadows can be cut for hay or silage is 1 July and meadows must be cut by the end of August.
Geo-tagged photos giving a clear representation of the mown meadow must be submitted to the Department on the date of mowing or within five days after mowing activity.
MSL scorecard requirements
The terms and conditions state that to use the MSL scorecard the following criteria must be met:
Establishing MSL swards
Where the reseeding option is being selected, the terms and conditions state that “a 2m gap which is unsprayed/uncultivated should be kept between the field boundary (ie hedge, boundary fence) and the start of the reseed”.
The crop must be established and an assessment submitted on the GLAM system before 15 August 2021.
The ley must compromise a mix of grasses, legumes and herbs.
The highest scores will be attained by a diverse mix containing at least seven legumes / herbs in the mix.
Example species highlighted include certified red clover, certified late flowering red clover, certified birds foot trefoil, Sainfoin, chicory, sheep’s parsley forage herb, yarrow forage herb, ribwort plantain, Salad burnet, alsike clover, sweet clover.
The terms and conditions stress that the cultivation of semi-natural grassland or old permanent pasture to establish a multi species ley is prohibited and will result in rejection from the scheme.
The Department states that it may require a geo-tagged photo of the field before cultivation took place.
The presence of field margins and boundaries in good condition can increase the score given to a sward. Field margins can be established at a distance of 1m, 2m or 3m from the boundary in LIG, with the addition of a 5m margin for MSL.
They can be established either all around the full field perimeter or along one or more sides of a field perimeter.
Note that margins cannot be established on part of a boundary/field side and must be established along a full boundary length.
Margins must be fenced appropriately to prevent access from livestock.
They must be managed by either mowing/flailing or mulching at least once per year (1 September to 28 February) and it is recommended to remove cuttings.
Density per hectare
The information booklet advises that field margins are paid according to their density per hectare, with higher margins awarded for the wider margin widths.
It should be noted that margins must be additional to any existing nitrates buffer margin requirements.
Extra marks will be awarded where a margin is established next to a watercourse or drainage ditch.