Farmers planning to use fallow to meet their Ecological Focus Area (EFA) requirement when completing their 2020 Basic Payment Scheme application are reminded it will only be eligible if it has not been cultivated or subject to spray or fertiliser inputs since the start of the year.
If want to use your fallow land as EFA, more restrictive management rules are in place than for other fallow land.
These rules stipulate that from 1 January to 30 June 2020 EFA fallow land must not be cultivated in any way (except to establish wild bird mixes or nectar and pollen sources), or have any fertilisers and plant protection products applied. Grazing is also prohibited.
The key message is that if you intend to use fallow for EFA purposes, remind yourself of the EFA fallow requirements before completing your form or you could get caught out.
It is possible to declare land use as fallow, but withdraw it from EFA, so check your application carefully before submitting.
The application window for 2020 BPS applications in England opened on 12 March, with the deadline extended to the 15th June.
The rules are largely unchanged from previous years, although Defra has now confirmed that the three-crop rule will be relaxed following months of extreme weather.
The government has announced that as the UK has now left the EU all BPS payments will be made in Sterling, based on an exchange rate of €1 = 0.89092, which is the same conversion rate as last year.
This means that individual farmers will see payments in line with 2019, assuming there has been no change to their claim.
Payments will start in December 2020 with the payment window running until 30 June 2021.