While it hasn’t yet been confirmed by the Department of Agriculture, it is expected that a red clover and multispecies sward scheme will be in place again for 2023.

The measure was introduced this time last year and farmers had a two-week window to apply for the scheme through Agfood, the Department’s online portal.

The scheme paid €50 per 12kg bag of red clover and/or multispecies sward seed mixtures.

Last year, the scheme was administered via agricultural merchants, with farmers showing their letter of approval to their merchants when purchasing the seed.

\ Donal O' Leary

The farmer paid for the seed less the value of €50 per 12kg and this was then claimed from the Department by the merchant.

However, it is expected that the new scheme for 2023 will be changed so that the farmer pays the full upfront cost of the seed, with payment coming directly to the farmer alongside the BISS payments.

Weight requirements

A second change is that the seed weight requirements for the multispecies mixtures are set to become the minimum amount of seed inclusion per pack.

See Table 1 for the requirements for last year’s scheme. This means that farmers and merchants can add quantities of some species if they require it.

Herbs have small seeds so even though the inclusion rate may be low, the actual seed count will still be relatively high and the proportion of herbs and legumes in the sward should be sufficient.

A minimum of 4kg red clover can be included in the red clover sward 12kg acre pack.

Farmers were able to claim the payment last year on a minimum of 1ha and a maximum of 20ha of red clover or 20ha of multispecies.

Rate of payment

It is expected that the rate of payment for 2023 will be broadly in line with the €50 per 12kg or acre pack like last year.

It was a requirement last year that the varieties of perennial ryegrass used in either the red clover or multispecies sward seed mixtures must be on the Department of Agriculture recommended lists.

The importance of choosing seed mixtures with good perennial ryegrass and white clover varieties cannot be overstated.

Both red clover and herbs have a relatively short lifespan and white clover can have poor persistency. After three or four years, all that will remain in the sward is likely to be perennial ryegrass and white clover, if lucky.

Really, picking varieties from the recommended lists is the minimum requirement. Choosing varieties with good spring and autumn growth and that score highly on utilisation is also important.

Increasing the amount of perennial ryegrass in the seed mixture up to 8kg to 10kg/acre is a good idea.