Have you accepted your Environmental Farming Scheme Agreement?
January 27, 2021
Kingsley Jordan of Annaghanoon Farm was recently informed that his application to the Environmental Farming Scheme (Wider) had been successful and he wasted no time logging on to DAERA Online Services to select the “accept” button and become the first Tranche 4 Environmental Farming Scheme agreement holder.
Annaghanoon Farm, located outside Waringstown in Co Armagh, is owned and run by Kingsley and Rachel Jordan. The beef and poultry farm is predominantly grassland with 30 acres of winter wheat/barley and 1.5 acres of established woodland. Four poultry houses, 100 beef cattle purchased as weanlings and sold as forward stores, and a successful pedigree beef Shorthorn herd keep the farming couple busy. In 2014, a new purpose built chicken house was erected. Extensive renovations on three existing houses were completed in 2019. All houses have biomass boilers and hot water heating ensuring high welfare standards. Work has recently been completed on a new cattle house to accommodate the growing beef Shorthorn herd.
Kingsley joined an Environmental Farming Business Development Group (BDG) in 2020 as he recognised the importance of improving the environmental performance of the farm. Environmental Farming BDGs are a new option within the BDG programme. Farmers from across a range of farm types meet on a regular basis to share experience and learn new ways to protect and enhance the environment. While these events would normally take place on farm, due to the current pandemic the group members have adapted to a new way of learning with online meetings facilitated by College of Agriculture Food and Rural Environment (CAFRE) Agri-Environment Adviser, Wendy George.
Farming in a way which protects and enhances the environment has always been important to Northern Ireland farmers and is expected to feature more heavily in future government policies for agriculture. Through the Environmental Farming BDGs, group members have the opportunity to develop environmental plans for their farm business. With this in mind, Kingsley sought Wendy’s advice to help make the best environmental plan for his farm business which included applying to the Environmental Farming Scheme.
With many main drains running through the farm, the protection of water quality is an important issue. Kingsley has included the water quality options ‘Creation of riparian buffer – 2 metre width –ungrazed’, and ‘10 metre width– Ungrazed’ in his Environmental Farming Scheme agreement. These Options are particularly suitable alongside grazed grassland fields where livestock access a watercourse to drink or cross, and where there is potential damage to the bankside. Fencing controls grazing livestock access, reducing the risk of nutrients, sediment, manure and pesticides entering watercourses. The vegetated areas of land near a water course provide a habitat for insects, farmland birds, and small mammals. They enhance connectivity of wildlife corridors, alleviate flood threat, and enhance carbon storage. After establishment, the riparian buffer requires minimal maintenance as the grass remains uncut and ungrazed. Noxious weeds should be removed by hand in preference to spraying. Under the Environmental Farming Scheme, Kingsley receives a payment to erect a stock-proof fence and will receive a management payment for a period of five years, but must retain the buffer for an additional ten years. Basic Payment Scheme payments can still be claimed on the area within the buffer as Single Farm Payment was claimed and paid on the area in 2008.
Environmental Farming Scheme agreement offers are currently being issued to businesses. Please ensure that you accept your offer online within the specified timeframe, otherwise the scheme agreement will be cancelled. To accept you should logon to DAERA Online Services, using your Government Gateway or NI Direct logon details. Alternatively, contact your Authorised Person (Agent) to view and accept the Scheme Agreement on your behalf, or contact your local DAERA Direct office for further advice. Remember to read the information sheets carefully before accepting your agreement.
The Business Development Group Scheme and Technology Demonstration Farms are part funded through the EU Rural Development Programme.