The European Commission has published updated greening rules which will come into effect from 1 January 2018 and logically affects cropping for this autumn. The main changes to the 2018 greening rules are as follows:
- A complete ban on the use of Plant Protection Products on Ecological Focus Area (EFA) Fallow Land, EFA Catch and Cover Crops, and EFA Nitrogen-fixing Crops is introduced. The ban applies from the time of sowing the crop, even if this is before 1 January 2018, to harvesting. The ban also applies to seed dressings.
- EFA catch crops must be maintained for a minimum of 8 weeks starting on 20 August 2018 and must be retained until at least 14 October 2018. The period for EFA cover crops remains at 1 October to 15 January of the following year.
- As part of crop diversification, you can declare an area as ‘mixed crops’ that contains small areas of different crops grown next to each other. Individually these would otherwise be too small to claim (these are areas less than 0.01ha) but can be claimed as one ‘mixed crop’ area.
- The EFA option for hedges is extended in definition to include trees in a line. The EFA value will remain the same – each metre of length equals 10 square metres of area for EFA (as long as if you claim this option you have management responsibility for both sides of the hedge and/or line of trees).
- The EFA buffer strips option is extended in definition to include field margins as well as buffer strips. In addition to buffer strips adjacent or parallel with a water course, you can also claim field margins towards your EFA. The minimum width of 1 metre remains. The EFA value of field margins will be the same as EFA buffer strips – every metre in length equals 9 square metres of area for EFA.
If you would like to discuss any of the changes to greening requirements further please do not hesitate to contact one of our team at WebbPaton.