Farmers can mitigate the costs of meeting CAP greening requirements by growing nitrogen-fixing crops, new analysis shows.

In its list of options to meet greening requirements in England, farmers will be able to grow nitrogen-fixing crops, such as field beans and peas, to count towards their ecological focus area (EFA) requirement.

A report by the AHDB and HGCA estimated growing nitrogen-fixing crops could reduce the impact on larger arable farms by £2-10/ha.

The introduction of EFA requirements represents the biggest potential cost to arable farms larger than 30ha, said the report.

Most farms with an arable area greater than 15ha in England will need an EFA that equates to 5% of arable land to meet greening requirements.

The report, entitled AHDB/HGCA assessment of the impact of greening to combinable cropping farms, estimated that a 5% reduction applied evenly across all crops could reduce gross margins by £33-41/ha.

And the financial impact on a typical 100ha farm with an arable rotation of first wheat, second wheat and oilseed rape could be as much as £4,000.

But farms may be able to mitigate these losses, such as by applying the reduction to the poorest performing crop or through the introduction of nitrogen-fixing crops, such as peas and fields beans.

See also: CAP reform