Handy guide to key cross- compliance dates 2018

Defra has released a calendar of key dates in 2018 to help farmers in England avoid making cross-compliance breaches.

Cross-compliance rules apply to all basic payment scheme claimants and are made up of statutory management requirements (SMRs) or standards for Good Agricultural and Environmental Conditions (GAECs).

They cover issues relating to:

  • Public, animal and plant health
  • Environment, climate change and good agricultural condition of land
  • Animal welfare

Any breaches – even when they are made by mistake – result in penalties applied by the Rural Payment Agency through farm support payments. These can range from a 1% reduction in BPS for every area breached, to 100% of the BPS withheld in cases of severe, persistent intentional failures.

See also: How to avoid making cross-compliance penalties

So to reduce the chance of making a mistake it is vital to know the dates and timings for key tasks that can lead to cross compliance infringements.

January

1 – Organic manures such as slurry, poultry manure and liquid digested sewage sludge can be applied to grassland and tillage land on shallow or sandy soils under suitable conditions. Nb. Quantity restrictions must be met. (SMR 1)

1 – Start date for assessing the annual amount of livestock manure applied. (SMR 1)

16 – Manufactured nitrogen fertilisers can be applied to grassland and tillage land in suitable conditions. (SMR 1)

February

1 – Organic manures such as slurry, poultry manure and liquid digested sewage sludge can be applied to grassland and tillage land on all soil types under suitable conditions.  Nb. Quantity restrictions must be met. (SMR 1)

28  – End of quantity restrictions for organic manure – slurry, poultry manure and liquid digested sewage sludge. (SMR 1)

March

1 – Cutting or trimming hedges or trees is prohibited.
1 – Hedge and tree coppicing and hedge laying can continue from this date until 30 April. (GAEC 7a and 7c)

31 – Water abstraction licence holders should expect annual bills or first part charge if two-part tariff agreements are held. (GAEC 2)

April

1 – Ban begins on burning heather, rough grass, bracken, gorse or vaccinium other than in upland areas. (GAEC 6)

1 – 28-day window opens for winter or year-round water abstraction licence holders (authorising abstraction outside the period April to October) to submit readings to Environment Agency. (GAEC 2)

16 – Upland area ban on burning heather, rough grass, bracken, gorse or vaccinium begins. (GAEC 6)

30 – “Specified” livestock numbers kept on individual farms during the previous calendar year must be recorded along with the calculated amount of nitrogen they produced. The number and type of livestock in a building or hardstanding during the previous storage period must also be recorded. (SMR 1)

May

1 – Ban begins on hedge or tree coppicing and hedge laying. (GAEC7a and 7c)

August

1 – Rural Payments Agency derogations begin for cutting or trimming hedges throughout August, to sow oilseed rape or temporary grassland. (GAEC 7a)

1 – Closed period begins on applications of organic manure such as slurry, poultry manure and liquid digested sewage sludge to tillage land on shallow or sandy soils except where crops will be sown on or before 15 September. (SMR 1)

September

1 – Ban on hedge cutting or trimming ends. (GAEC 7a and 7c)

1 – Closed period begins on applications of organic manure such as slurry, poultry manure and liquid digested sewage sludge to grassland on shallow or sandy soils. (SMR 1)

1 – Start of closed period for applying manufactured nitrogen fertilisers to tillage land. (SMR 1)

15 – Closed period starts for applying manufactured nitrogen fertilisers to grassland. (SMR 1)

16 – Start of closed period for applying organic manure such as slurry, poultry manure and liquid digested sewage sludge to tillage land on shallow or sandy soils that has been sown with crops on or before 15 September. (SMR 1)

October

1 – Ban lifted on burning heather, rough grass, bracken, gorse or vaccinium on land in upland areas. (GAEC 6)

1 – Start of closed period for applying organic manure such as slurry, poultry manure and liquid digested sewage sludge to tillage land on heavier soils. (SMR 1)

15 – Closed period starts for applying organic manure such as slurry, poultry manure and liquid digested sewage sludge to grassland on deeper and heavier soils. (SMR 1)

31 – 28-day window open for readings to be sent to the Environment Agency by holders of summer water abstraction licences (authorising abstraction wholly within the months of April to October). (GAEC 2)

November

1 – Ban lifted on burning heather, rough grass, bracken, gorse or vaccinium. (GAEC 6)

30 – Two-part tariff agreement holders for water abstraction licences should expect to receive the second part charge. (GAEC 2)

December

1 – Annual inventory of sheep and goats must be completed. (SMR 8)