Basic Payment Scheme - Greening

Greening is compulsory for all BPS claimants unless an exemption applies. The Greening requirement is based on all eligible hectares on your holding not simply the hectares claimed. Failure to comply could result in a 30% reduction in payment. The three elements of Greening are:

1. Maintenance of existing permanent grassland;

2. Crop diversification on arable land;

3. Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs).

Permanent Grassland – Is defined as land which has not been included in a crop rotation for five years or more. Reseeding consecutive grass leys does not break the five years cycle and the cropped area will revert to Permanent Grassland after five years – unless a different arable crop is grown during this period. DEFRA is keen to maintain the level of permanent grassland which was established in 2015 and if the level falls by more than 5%, farmers who have recently converted permanent grassland may be asked to reinstate a proportion of it.

Crop Diversification – Is required on all land which qualifies as arable unless an exemption applies. For the purposes of BPS, arable land includes land cultivated for crop production, land available for crop production but lying fallow and land under greenhouses or other cover as well as temporary grassland. Crop diversification has become commonly known as the “three crop rule”, however many claimants will be affected by the “two crop rule”. The table below sets out who will be required to comply with crop diversification and to what extent.

Arable Land

Crops Required

0-10 ha
(up to 25 acres)

Diversification not required as greening rules automatically met.

10-30 ha
(25 - 74 acres)

At least two crops must be grown. The main crop must not exceed 75% of the total area.

30 ha +
(75 acres +)

At least three crops must be grown. The two main crops must not exceed 95% of the total area with the main crop not exceeding 75%.

The majority of farmers with a traditional crop rotation over their land are likely to fulfil the requirements of crop diversification without significant changes. However, those involved in Contract Farming Agreements are likely to see the biggest change in their management as the ability to “block crop” is removed. Also, livestock farmers who have grown maize or grass leys on rotation may well fall under the crop diversification rules. The two or three crops will need to be in the ground between 1st May and 30th June annually. If harvest has occurred prior to this date then stubble can be used as proof of crop diversification. For the purposes of crop diversification winter and spring crops will count as two different crops.

Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs) – Claimants must have EFAs where they have 15 hectares or more of arable land. EFAs must account for 5% of the arable area in 2018. The cropping period for EFAs is 1st January to 30th June. DEFRA has confirmed that the following features can be used to meet the EFA requirements in England:

  • Hedges;
  • Buffer strips;
  • Fallow land;
  • Catch crops and cover crops
  • Nitrogen fixing crops.

Each of these features carry a different weighting and careful planning of areas is required.

2018 amendments – RPA have made changes to the greening rules for the 2018 scheme year which include a complete ban on Plant Protection Products on EFA land from the time of sowing the crop, even if this occurred prior to 1st January. All those affected by Greening are advised to read the new rules to see what else has changed.

The penalty regime is also changing with stiffer penalties now applicable where a Greening Administrative penalty applies. Where a penalty has been applied, it will show on the 2017 claim statement.

Many of the Greening EFA options are similar to Environmental/Countryside Stewardship options. Under BPS, claimants may be able to utilise the same feature for the two schemes (known as double funding). This however would mean a reduction to the Countryside Stewardship payment where double funding applies.

All land certified as organic will be exempt from the rules and automatically qualify for the Greening aspect of the payment. However, these agreements will also be affected by “double funding” so contact us to consider your options.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of Greening, its impact on environmental schemes or if you require assistance in calculating areas, please contact Stuart Milsom on 01285 648107.