RPA Inspections Target Cultivation Methods

Farmers should pay special attention to post harvest cultivation, making every effort to minimise soil erosion if they are to avoid the possibility of non compliance and potential loss of Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments.

Emma Fairbairn from Youngs RPS says;
"Farmers have been told that soil condition post harvest is to be a primary focus for up and coming cross compliance inspections by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA)," she warns in a timely reminder given that harvest is fast approaching.

Emma Fairbairn

Emma Fairbairn

Any arable famer claiming Basic Payment must abide by the Good Agricultural and Environmental Conditions (GAEC) set out under the cross compliance derogation. Key to this is choosing the correct post-harvest management technique, taking into account the weather, soil type and topography.

"Weather conditions such as we have recently experienced - warm and dry interspersed with heavy downpours, can leave many soils prone to capping during harvest and cultivation works," she says. "This being the case any topsoil and subsoil compaction should be removed prior to cultivating and drilling under GAEC rules.

"Current recommendations suggest this is done by first checking the depth of compaction by digging several soil pits across the field in question and then using a subsoiler, but only when the soil is sufficiently dry to enable effective results. Meantime farmers looking at planting spring crops are being encouraged to consider winter cover crops as a means to enhance soil organic matter levels and ensure compliance relating to the provision of minimum soil cover. Evidence of adherence is what the inspectors will be looking for, she suggests.

"The RPA is obligated to undertake inspections on a set proportion of farms each year to check that cross compliance rules are being adhered to," warns Emma. "Little if any warning is given of these visits which can happen more than once in a year. Even where the RPA does give you advance notice, it is likely to be less than 48 hours before the inspection. The key, therefore is to be prepared."

Youngs RPS

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