• Gemma Sparks

Changes to EFA Requirements in 2018

There have been a number of changes to the greening requirements for those applying for Basic Payments on their land in England. These changes include the following:

1. Plant Protection Products are no longer allowed to be applied to nitrogen fixing crops, fallow and catch or cover crops that are used to make up your Ecological Focus Area. This includes the use of seed treatments, herbicides, insecticides, desiccants and plant growth regulators.

2. The EFA weighting of nitrogen fixing crops has now upped from 0.7 to 1.

3. Trees in a line can now be used towards your hedges.The line of trees must be on a permanent boundary, but they do not have to be in a straight line. The line must include a minimum of 3 trees of any size and width, but must be within 5m of arable land. Gaps of between 20m between each tree are allowable, but woodland edges do not apply.

4. Field margins can now be used to make up your EFA area in England. These margins must be a minimum of 1m wide and within 5m of arable land. The area must be visually different from the arable area and maintained for the full calendar year of application (1st January until 31st December). Each linear metre of margin, equates to nine metres squared of EFA area, although width is not measured. This area can be located on the same area as the 2m cross compliance buffer strip that applies from the centre of the hedge, but there must be a minimum 1m from the edge of the hedge.

5. Catch crops in England must now be kept for a minimum of 8 weeks, rather than the previous 4. They must be established prior to 20th August and retained until 14th October. Cover crops timescales remain unchanged and must still be retained from 1st October until 15th January.

6. Grassland that is listed as fallow for your EFA area can now convert to permanent pasture after 5 years. This assessment starts from 2018, so the first year this would apply would be 2023.

7. The greening exemption for those with arable land under 30ha no longer applies.

8. Permitted activities on EFA fallow land have changed within the fallow period. The land can no longer be cultivated for weed control, no manure or fertiliser can be applied and grass can only be sown where it is required under a Rural Development Scheme. These areas must be visually distinguishable, which can be identified be different types or heights of vegetation and different land management.

For assistance with your greening requirements or with your Basic Payment Application for 2018 please contact Gemma on 07533340847 or gemma@blackdownconsulting.co.uk

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