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Environmental Schemes, Environmental Plans, Soil Organic Matter testing, Nutrient Management Planning


Agricultural Environmental Option Scheme (AEOS)

The new Agricultural Environmental Option Scheme (AEOS) was officially launched on Tuesday 30th March 2010. This scheme replaces the REPS4 scheme which closed in July 2009. This new scheme allows for farmers to claim up to a maximum of €5,000 per year for 5 years.


There are numerous options to choose from, many of which are similar to those included in REPS4. Each measure is allocated a financial value either as euros per ha / euros per m in relation to hedgerows or stone walls / euros per unit e.g. cattle troughs, trees, rare breeds, etc. For some measures there will be a capital payment to cover material costs.  Significant expenditure will be required on fencing, hedge planting, seed mixes and other materials and much of this expenditure will be required in year 1.


Applications must be submitted by the closing date of the Single Farm Payment Scheme, 17th May 2010. While Planner / Agricultural Consultant input is not required farmers should be careful in choosing options.


The scheme is most likely to suit large farms with land to spare or extensive farmers who are operating more on a hobby basis. There is no doubt that the restrictions applying on the top paying measures will hit output on smaller and medium sized commercial farms.  



REPS was introduced in the early ‘90s to promote ways of using agricultural lands which are compatible with the protection and improvement of the environment. While the scheme is currently closed to new participants there are many farmers still actively involved in REPS 3 and a number of new participants also involved in REPS 4. This Scheme will continue for these farmers for the next 5 years.

All participants in either REPS 3 or REPS 4 still require support and advice to ensure compliance with their obligations. Pat Minnock was one of the first advisers registered to provide a REPS planning service to farmers in the early ‘90s and he continues to provide a quality backup service to all his REPS clients in the mid-Leinster region.

Record keeping is now probably the single most important thing for many REPS farmers to ensure no penalties are applied if and when they are inspected by the Dept. of Agriculture. Pat Minnock supplies a comprehensive service to all REPS clients to ensure conformity with the regulations.

Nutrient Management Planning
Minnock Agri have been involved in Nutrient Management Planning since the early ‘90s. The economic value of quality Nutrient Management Planning is measurable.

Minnock Agri provides a comprehensive soil sampling, analysis and recommendation service for farmers. NMP’s are provided for farms to satisfy the various environmental schemes and the Nitrates Directive. Pat Minnock specialises in the area of derogation planning.

Farms that exceed the 170kg N/ha of organic nitrogen now have the option of applying to the Department of Agriculture for a derogation to increase the limit. Farmers between 130kg/ha and 170kg/ha need to carefully weigh up their options before deciding whether it is beneficial to apply for a nitrates derogation.

Successful derogation applicants will be able to apply livestock manure in excess of 170kg/ha in accordance with their fertiliser plan, up to a maximum of 250kg/ha per year.

If stocking rates exceed 250kg/ha alternative arrangements, such as exporting some of the livestock manure, must then be considered. There are a number of obligations on farmers who obtain a nitrates derogation. Pat Minnock will help all farmers in this situation to have a fertiliser plan in place by the first of March each year and will keep fertiliser accounts and records in order.


Record Keeping
Whether it is REPS, Nutrient Management Planning, Derogation Farming or Irish Grain Assurance Scheme there are now many reasons why good records are required by farmers.  If you are importing sludge or importing organic matter other records must be kept.

Pat Minnock will ensure that these records are kept correctly and up-to-date.

Soil Organic Matter
In 2009 over 550 farmers in intensive tillage/grain growing areas received a letter from the Department of Agriculture in relation to their organic matter status in soils.

From 2010 onwards all land that has been in tillage for more than six years must have a soil organic matter plan in place or have soil samples to indicate that their soil organic matter is greater than 3.4%.

Every four hectares (8 hectares with similar soil type and history) will have to be sampled. Results remain for ten years. If the soil sample analysis indicates soil organic matter is below 3.4% a CC-FAS Advisor is required to suggest remedial action as might be considered necessary to improve the organic content of soils. Pat Minnock is a registered CC-FAS Advisor and is available to carry out this work.