Here is a short reminder for BPS 2018 on hedges, when using them for EFA (Ecological Focus Areas) greening 5% requirement. Remember, EFA hedges can also include single row of trees.
The RPA has a hedge layer that farmers need to refer to if they want to use hedges for EFA (even if filling out a paper form). The hedge layer can be found online via the Rural Payments service and within the claiming business’ online profile - go via the Business Overview page to the Land section and then the View Land section. When you select a field you will see the hedge icon within the field map. When the hedge icon is clicked, you will see the hedges identified by the RPA for the field in question. Their respective lengths will be listed next to the field and whether they are eligible for EFA. Entering hedge lengths or amending those already contained within the pre-populated data can be accessed via the Land Use table within the Land section.
Where can I find information on hedges?
Rules for hedges used for greening can be found in the following places:
- Greening rules and what is considered a hedge can be found in the BPS Handbook (page 33 onwards).
- Specific guidance on the rules for mapped hedges, covering hedge information for agri-environmental schemes and when hedges are important for these schemes can be found here.
- Guidance on completing the online application can be found here.
- Guidance on completing a paper form can be found here.
Is there anything I need to pay particular attention to when wanting to use hedges for EFA in 2018?
Yes, here are some key points to consider:
- Understand what is considered to be a hedge or a single row of trees for EFA – the definitions. For example, the edge of woodland is not considered a single row of trees! Hedges on banks can count.
- Have a conversation with your neighbours to make sure there is no dual claiming on hedges that they are responsible for.
- Do not forget that hedges have to be adjacent to arable land. Not every hedge shown is eligible for greening EFA. If the online mapping is showing the wrong ‘land cover’, the issue needs to be addressed. More information can be found here.
- The RPA split a hedge into the two sides and they need to be accounted for separately on the application if wishing to be claimed on – each side of the hedge may be attributed to the adjacent fields or to only one of the adjacent fields. Greening Workbook will help with the EFA maths.
- Understand what to do if hedge information is not showing on your online maps. You need to submit an RLE1 form and a map showing any missing hedge lengths that you are wanting to use for EFA hedge option (you can put more than one hedge /mapping edit on an RLE1 form).
- Understand the rules of overlapping EFA areas when a hedge is being claimed for EFA is adjacent to field based EFA options of fallow, nitrogen fixing crops and catch/cover crops.
- Appreciate any impacts there are for claiming EFA greening on a hedge that is in an agri-environmental scheme.
- Remember that the online mapping does not get updated in real time if the online land use table is being edited.
- If claiming on hedges, remember they need to be there on the ground for the entire calendar year. The only exception is newly planted hedges which need to be there when the application is made.
- Using EFA field margin option next to EFA hedge: this is allowed and as they are both linear EFA features, there is no overlapping EFA issues to consider, but remember the EFA field margin option has to be at least 1 metre wide and not covered by the adjacent hedge.
- Finally when you have completed an online application, check that the hedge information appears on the PDF version prior to submission.