Key cross-compliance and greening dates by region

The list of cross-compliance and greening rules farmers need to follow is long and life is made even more complicated by the fact each of the devolved regions has slightly different arrangements in place.

For example, the start date for the management of fallow as an ecological focus areas (EFA) is the start of the year in England, mid-January in Scotland and the start of February in Wales and Northern Ireland.

Farmers need to avoid any breaches as they could result in penalties being applied to their farm support payments.

See also: 10 most common cross-compliance breaches and how to avoid them

Many of the rules are also tied in to European and UK legislation, so even if farmers chose not to apply for subsidy they would need to comply.

The list of requirements is divided into statutory management requirements (SMRs) or standards for good agricultural and environmental conditions (GAECs).

The following is a summary of the key dates covering cross-compliance and greening issues by region.

England

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. Quantity restrictions must be met. (SMR1)

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

1 – EFA period for EFA fallow land begins.

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. 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)

1 – Crop diversification period and EFA period for nitrogen fixing crops begins (until 30 June)

June

30 – End of crop diversification ‘cropping’ period and end of EFA fallow period.

August

1 – Cutting or trimming hedges of hedgerows is allowed to sow oilseed rape or temporary grassland if a derogation has been granted by the Rural Payments Agency. (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)

20 – EFA catch crops must be established by this date.

September

1 – Ban on hedgecutting 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 – EFA cover crops must be established by this date and remain until 15 January.

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)

14 – End of period during which EFA catch crop must remain in place.

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)

Source: DEFRA – The guide to cross compliance in England 2018, Basic Payment Scheme 2018 and Farming Advisory Service.

Northern Ireland

January

15 – Ploughing without restriction can recommence. (GAEC 4)

31 – Final date for submission of records relating to the movement of organic manure in previous calendar year. (SMR 1).

February

1 – Chemical fertilisers, organic manures – including slurry, poultry litter, sewage, sludge and abattoir waste – and farmyard manure may be applied providing environmental conditions are suitable. (SMR 1).

1 – EFA period for EFA fallow begins.

March

1 – Start of the closed period for hedge, tree or scrub cutting and coppicing (including trimming and laying).

1 – Final date for submission of application for nitrates derogation to allow land application of up to 250kg nitrogen per hectare per year from grazing livestock manure under certain conditions. (SMR 1)

1 – Final date for submission of fertilisation “account” for the previous calendar year (for farmers with an approved nitrates derogation). (SMR 1)

1 – Fertilisation plan for the current calendar year must be ready and available for inspection (SMR 1)

April

15 – Ban on burning heather, gorse, or fern applies from this date. (GAEC 5).

June

30 – Nitrates record for previous calendar year to be ready and made available for inspection. (SMR 1)

July

31 – End of EFA fallow period.

August

31 – End of closed period which prohibits heather, gorse, whin or fern burning. (GAEC 5)

September

1 – Hedge, tree and scrub cutting is allowed from this date. (GAEC 7)

15 (midnight) – Closed period for application of chemical fertiliser begins. (SMR 1)

October

15 (midnight) – Closed period for application of organic manures, including slurry, poultry litter, sewage, sludge and abattoir waste begins. (SMR 1).

31 (midnight) – Closed period for application of farmyard manure begins. (SMR1)

December

1-5 – Annual inventory of sheep and goats must be completed. (SMR 8).

Source: Northern Ireland Cross-Compliance Verifiable Standards 2018

Scotland

January

15 – Start of management period for EFA fallow land.

March

1 – Cutting of hedges is prohibited from this date. (GAEC7)

July

15 – End of management period for EFA fallow.

16 – Cutting of EFA margin option is allowed, including for hay and silage. It is also possible to graze margins after this date so long as the margin does not contain or is adjacent to a watercourse.

August

1 – End of management period for EFA nitrogen-fixing crops – crop cannot be harvested before this date to protect ground-nesting birds.

31 – End of closed period for the cutting and trimming of hedges (GAEC 7)

November

1 – Green cover EFA option must be established

Source: Key dates: Rural Payments and Services (15 March, 2018) and Cross Compliance 2018.

Wales

January

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

15 – Manufactured nitrogen fertilisers can be applied to grassland and tillage land on all soils if conditions are suitable. (SMR 1)

31 – Organic manure with a high readily available nitrogen content (for example slurry and poultry manures) can be applied to grassland and tillage land on all soils if conditions are suitable. Quantity restrictions must be met. (SMR1)

February

1 – EFA period for EFA fallow begins.

March

1 – Cutting or trimming hedgerows and trees is prohibited, but hedge laying and coppicing can continue. (GAEC 7)

1 – End of five-month storage period for all the slurry of livestock, other than pigs and poultry. (SMR 1)

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

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

31 – Ban on carrying out any hedge-laying or coppicing starts unless with permission from the Welsh government for education or training purposes. (GAEC 7)

April

1 – End of six-month storage period for pig and poultry slurry.

30 – 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)

July

31 – End of EFA fallow period.

August

1 – Start of closed period for applying organic manure with a high readily available nitrogen content to tillage land on shallow or sandy soils (application is allowed between 1 August and 15 September as long as a crop is sown on or before 15 September).

1 – Hedges or trees may be trimmed on arable land where the normal agricultural practice requires a winter arable crops to be planted before 31 August, so long as nesting birds are not disturbed. (GAEC 7)

September

1 – Ban on hedgecutting or trimming ends. (GAEC 7)

1 – Start of closed period for application of organic manure with a highly readily nitrogen content to grassland on shallow or sandy soils, and for applying manufactured nitrogen fertilisers to tillage land. (SMR 1)

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

October

1 – Start of closed period for applying organic manure with a highly readily available nitrogen content to tillage land on heavier soils.

1 – Start of six-month storage period for all slurry types.

15 – Start of closed period for applying organic manure with a highly readily available nitrogen content to grassland on heavier soils.

November

1 – Restrictions on burning heather, rough grass, bracken gorse or vaccinium on all land types end.

December

31 – Organic manure with a highly-readily available nitrogen content can be applied to grassland and tillage ground with sandy and shallow soils. (SMR 1)

Source: Cross Compliance Verifiable Standards 2018 and 2018 Greening Booklet

The information provided in this article is  for general information purposes only and can be subject to change. Always consult the latest documentation published by the relevant government department before taking action.

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