Agricultural Services

Nutrient Management Planning

A farm nutrient management plan allows a farmer to get the maximum financial return from on and off farm fertilisers in a way that protects the quality of local water resources in line with Statutory Instrument  SI No. 31 of 2014.

The rising price of bagged fertiliser has now forced most farmers to get the optimum results from on farm fertilisers and any other imported organic fertilisers. A professional nutrient management plan can result in very significant savings due to the decreased application of inorganic Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium.

The starting point in the preparation of a nutrient management plan is the inspection of all lands for stock carrying capacity and cropping suitability. Vulnerable areas close to watercourses and steep inclines are noted and the required exclusion zones are mapped. Soil samples are then taken and the results form the base line for nutrient requirements in line with planned cropping and stocking density.

The total amounts of nutrients supplied by on farm fertilisers such as slurry, farm yard manure, imported pig slurry and any other organic manure, is then calculated and subtracted from the total crop nutrient requirement. Final inorganic fertiliser and lime requirements are then calculated.

Farm storage facilities and slurry storage requirements are also determined under the nutrient management plan in line with SI No.31 of 2014.

The farm nutrient management plan must adhere to all requirements as detailed in the European Communities (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2014. If a farmer exceeds to 170 Kgs N per hectare then a derogation can be applied for by Greentrack.

Greentrack maintain all farm records required under the nitrate directive and carry out an annual review of all farming activities.

Basic Payment Application

The Basic Payment (BP) application is now the most important administration task on all active farms. This application is a prerequisite for all direct payment schemes including:

■ Basic Payment Scheme;

■ Basic Payment Scheme National Reserve;

■ ‘Young Farmer’ Scheme National Reserve;

■ ‘Old Young Farmer’ Scheme National Reserve;

■ Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environment (GLAS)Scheme;

■ Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) Scheme;

■ Grassland Sheep Scheme;

■ Knowledge Transfer Programme;

■ Targetted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS II);

■ Rural Environment Protection Scheme;

■ Agri-Environment Options Scheme;

■ Natura 2000 Scheme;

Greentrack uses the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM)  “on line” application facility as an approved agent. The BP on line application is processed without delay and queries can be dealt with efficiently through the on line system, thus avoiding payment delays.

Basic Payment entitlements are specific to each farmer and are based on the reference years of 2013, 2014 and 2015. Entitlements can be traded on the open market but one eligible hectare of land is required to trigger each entitlement.

Greentrack facilitates the trading of entitlements and also makes application for consolidation of entitlements where appropriate.

Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) Scheme

The new Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) Scheme replaces the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme under the new Rural Development Programme 2014 – 2020.

Under the 2015 Scheme, €195m will be paid to farmers supplying crucial aid to those farming in areas of natural constraint.

The Scheme is co-funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).

The Scheme is focused on ensuring the continued use of agricultural lands, the maintaining of the countryside, the protection of the environment and promotion of sustainable farming system.

Eligible applicants in 2015 must have; a) 0.15 livestock units per forage hectare for a minimum retention period of seven consecutive months and b) maintain an annual average of o.15 livestock units / forage hectare calculated over the 12 months of the scheme year.

Greentrack advise clients on stocking requirements, make application to the DAFM for payment and deal with all appeals and queries.

Agri-Environmental Option Scheme (AEOS);

The Agricultural Environmental Option Scheme (AEOS) is a measure under Ireland’s Rural Development Programme 2007 – 2013 jointly funded by the European Union and National Exchequer. The objectives of the AEOS are to meet the challenges of conserving and promoting biodiversity, encouraging water management and water quality measures and combating climate change.

AEOS 1 was launched in 2010 with a maximum payment of €5000 per annum and AEOS 2 launched in 2011 had this payment reduced to a maximum of €4000. AEOS 3 was launched in September 2012, again with a maximum payment of €4000 and priority given to applicants with Natura designated lands followed by applicants with commonage.

Greentrack completes and submits AEOS applications and also maintains all records, including nitrate records.

Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS)

GLAS is the new agri-environment scheme, part of the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020. GLAS achieves the objectives of Articles 28 and 30 of the Rural Development Regulation and ties in with the green vision for Irish agriculture as contained in Food Harvest 2020 and as promoted by Bord Bia in the Origin Green campaign.

wild bird coverThe scheme is green as it preserves our traditional hay meadows and low-input pastures; low-carbon as it retains the carbon stocks in soil through margins, habitat preservation and practices such as minimum tillage; and, agri-environment as it promotes agricultural actions, which introduce or continue to apply agricultural production methods compatible with the protection of the environment, water quality, the landscape and its features, endangered species of flora and fauna and climate change mitigation.

Denis Faulkner, Greentrack, is an approved GLAS Advisor

Knowledge Transfer Programme

A suite of knowledge transfer measures are included in the new Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, and will consist of support for Knowledge Transfer Groups across the Beef, Sheep, Dairy, Poultry, Tillage and Equine sectors. 2015 will initially see groups being established under the Beef, Dairy and Equine sectors with Poultry, Tillage and Sheep commencing in 2016.

knowledge tfThe scheme design has been guided by experiences from previous Dairy Advisory Schemes and Beef and Sheep Discussion Groups and following extensive consultation with a wide range of stakeholders. The scheme builds significantly on the discussion group model and is designed in such a way as to ensure the farmer and advisor engage in one to one discussion on key aspects of a farmers’ business such as profitability, environmental sustainability, breeding and herd health.

Knowledge Transfer Facilitators will hold a minimum of 5 Knowledge Exchange meetings each year and oversee the preparation and submission of a FIP for each participating farmer.

The Knowledge Transfer Programme will replace the Beef Technology Adoption Programme (Btap) which ended in 2014 and the Sheep Technology Adoption Programme (Stap) which will end in 2015.

Denis Faulkner, Greentrack, is an approved Knowledge Transfer facilitator.

Targetted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMSII);

A total of €120m has been set aside for young farmers from every sector under TAMS II between 2015 and 2020. Under the scheme, young farmers can get up to 60% grant aid on improvement works on the farm.

A qualifying ‘Young Farmer’ who invests €80,000 under the TAMS II scheme and meets all rules would receive grant aid of €48,000.

Details on the TAMS II scheme for farmers not in the Young Farmer category will be issued later in 2015.

Greentrack offers expert advice and completes and submits TAMSII applications

Farm Partnership Agreements

Farm Partnerships can be established where two or more farmers operate their enterprises jointly. This form of farm management is becoming increasingly popular in Ireland and can provide major economic and social benefits to all concerned. Shared facilities, machinery, working capital and work responsibility can provide a much better quality of life.

Farmers with very different circumstances, needs, aspirations and work preferences can established Farm Partnerships in Ireland. Partnerships are individual agreements that can be customised to farmers’ different needs and must be flexible and versatile and go through a  detailed planning process. This planning process must address all aspects of the proposed partnership down to the small details as this is very often where disputes can arise.

Farm Partnerships are found to offer a wide variety of benefits to farmers, but this depended on the quality of the investment made in drawing up a comprehensive partnership agreement.

Farm Partnerships are acknowledged to provide a solution to a common challenge experienced by farmers. Farmers who do not have the manpower or finances to improve the financial performance of their farms, yet wish to improve the economic viability of their farms, can use a Farm Partnership to access the manpower and resources they require. Farm Partnerships, while facilitating farms to increase their scale and manpower, also allows the family farm to remain in family ownership. While family farms in partnership operate together as larger entities, they are distinct from industrial-scale corporate farms because they are run by cooperating family farms.

Denis Faulkner is experienced in helping individuals to negotiate the terms of a partnership agreement. Greentrack can then provide a complete service to deal with all the DAFM requirements, including farm partnership application, single farm payment entitlements transfers and herd number applications.

Farm Cross Compliance Checks

If you receive a payment under the Basic Payment & Greening scheme you must follow a variety of regulations on the environment, public health, animal health, plant health, animal welfare and land maintenance. This system is known as Cross Compliance. The regulations you need to follow are called Statutory Management Requirements (SMRs). These are set down in EU legislation Directives and Regulations and are listed below:

  • SMR1 – Conservation of Wild Birds
  • SMR2 – Protection of Groundwater
  • SMR3 – Sludge
  • SMR4 – Nitrates
  • SMR5 – Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Flora and Fauna
  • SMR6, 7, 8 & 8a – Identification and Registration of Animals (Bovine, Ovine, Porcine)
  • SMR9 – Plant Protection Products (Pesticides)
  • SMR10 – Hormones
  • SMR11 – Food Hygiene
  • SMR12 – Feed
  • SMR13 – Foot and Mouth
  • SMR14 – Swine Vesicular Disease
  • SMR15 – Bluetongue
  • SMR16 – Animal Welfare (Calves)
  • SMR17 – Animal Welfare (Pigs)
  • SMR18 – Animal Welfare (General)
  • GAEC – Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition

A farm audit by DAFM will go through all the SMR’s relevant to your holding and non compliance issues will be noted. A penalty may apply which could vary from a few hundred euro to loosing your entire Basic Payment for a number of years.

Greentrack will look at your farm and farming practice and advise on issues that may give rise to non compliance and monetary penalties on foot of a cross compliance farm inspection.

Denis Faulkner is an approved CCFAS advisor.

Farm Health and Safety Statements and Farm Visits

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 requires all farmers to prepare and implement a Safety Statement. Farmers with three or fewer employees may instead follow the Code of Practice.

This act requires a safe place of work which includes the farmyard and buildings, safe working practices and procedures, safe equipment and machinery, a safe way in and out of the farmyard and other places of work, including farm buildings, information and training for workers, personal protective equipment where necessary, a safe system for the storage, handling and use of articles and substances and adequate toilet and washing facilities.

safetyFarmers must notify any work accident which prevents anyone carrying out their normal duties for more than three calendar days. Specified dangerous occurrences such as fires, explosions and chemical spillages must also be notified.

Farmers have similar duties to employers. Farmers must conduct their operations in such a manner so as not to put persons at risk (e.g. visitors, especially children and contractors)

Farmers are prepared to invest a lot of money in machinery and buildings but invest very little in health and safety. Allow someone else to “see the wood from the trees” and help you lead a much safer life.

Greentrack can advise farmers on completing a farm safety statement, implementing the code of practice and also accompany the farmer on a farm inspection. Potential hazards can be identified and agreement reached on the corrective actions required.

Farm Transfers and Succession Planning

The family farm is an emotive subject and many farmers have great difficulty in putting a succession plan in place. There are many options open to the land owner and all options should be carefully considered prior to agreement. The tax implication on both the transferor and transferee should be examined in detail at this stage and professional tax advice should be sought.

Denis Faulkner has a lot of experience in helping farm families to put a succession plan in place. A facilitation process allows all family members to have their say. It is very important that non farming family members are consulted as ill feeling can be created if this entire process is not handled in a sensitive and transparent manner. The other issue is to establish the future role of the retiring farmer in the enterprise, if any.

Where a succession plan is not practical then Denis Faulkner can advise on other options such as sale, long term lease or farm partnerships.

Farm Planning

Farming must be run as an efficient business to overcome the combined challenges of increased costs, reduced direct farm payments and variable sales prices. Most farmers are traditional and they follow the same production cycle each year. Now is the time to take a step back, analyse your business and make decisions accordingly.

The first step is to get up to date financial management information. This may require the use of a customised software package. Most are now user friendly and all the raw data is easily available on farm.

Denis Faulkner, Greentrack, can help you extract the required management data, analyse this and make decisions based on profitability, family requirements and personal ambition. A detailed farm business plan can then be compiled which will allow you to farm more efficiently, maximise profits and have a professional document to represent your business.

Expert Witness

There are times when farming related matters end up in court. This can be a dispute over rights of way, land leases, damage to farm property or stock. Expert witness reports are prepared with the sole objective of  informing the judge of the relevant facts supporting the testimony.

Denis Faulkner has experience providing impartial expert witness testimony in a wide variety of farm related matters.

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