A man lying in bed is woken by him phone© Monkey Business Images/REX/Shutterstock

Bleary-eyed farmers received a 5am text message from the Rural Payments Agency telling them applications have opened for the 2018 Basic Payment Scheme.

The agency – which has come under fire for the way it communicates with farmers – sent the pre-dawn message on Tuesday (13 March).

See also: Flindt on Friday: ‘I got the RPA email I’d been dreading’

BPS applicants have until 15 May to complete their declarations for 2018 and submit their application via the Rural Payments service.

After receiving the early morning text message, Norfolk estate manager Jake Fiennes suggested the agency might be trying to become more efficient in its communications.

NFU deputy president Guy Smith tweeted a link to a video for The Who song 5:15 – suggesting the message was inspired by either insomniacs, early risers or fans of the band.

But Nottinghamshire farmer John Charles-Jones said receiving an early text message was a price he was prepared to pay if it meant communications were improving.

Farmers have previously complained they are often left in the dark about their BPS applications.

Although the agency says its performance has increased, many farmers are still waiting for their 2017 payments – and some for years before that.

The RPA is encouraging farmers to apply online now to ensure their application is submitted before the 15 May deadline.

Defra said applying online meant farmers and agents could quickly check and update their details, as well as view and transfer land and entitlements.