The mandatory crop rotation requirement included in the new CAP strategic plan risks putting more ground out of tillage, the Irish Grain Growers (IGG) group has warned.

Although Irish tillage farmers will be exempt from the requirement for full annual crop rotation under the redrafted CAP plan, the IGG said the changed programme remained a concern.

The IGG claimed that mandatory rotation was particularly difficult for Irish tillage farmers as the majority of Irish operations were far smaller than their European counterparts, there were limited markets for crops outside of barley and wheat, and the country’s wet climate regularly curtailed growers’ planting options.

The amended CAP requirements stipulate that under Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC) 7:

  • Farmers with more than 50ha of tillage land will have to rotate the crop grown on individual parcels once every four years.
  • Farmers with between 10ha and 50ha will largely be exempt from rotating crops, as long as they practice crop diversification and adhere to the three-crop rule.
  • Farmers with over 50% of their tillage area sown to barley can also be exempt from the requirement for rotation.
  • As an alternative to the rotation and diversification obligations in the redrafted GAEC 7, farmers can sow more than 50% of their tillage area to catch crops annually but all land must be sown to at least one catch crop in a four-year period.