Pilot Farm Environmental Study (FES)

This pilot will establish a framework to generate a database of baseline habitat and biodiversity data at the farm-level and will provide the scope for an inventory of farm habitats and biodiversity present and a baseline for future targeting of agri-environmental schemes and measures.

The Pilot Stage of FES will focus on the roll out of farm level habitat surveys on approximately 6,500 farms.

The Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA) will coordinate the roll out of this survey

The FES advisor training module will commence shortly, and the measure will open to farmers in quarter 1 2022. Farm surveys will be carried out over the spring and summer 2022.

Results and outputs of the pilot survey will be presented to the Department in Q4 of 2022

https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/3b122-mcconalogue-and-hackett-launch-5-million-pilot-farm-environmental-study/

Gap Analysis Interim Briefing Note

Source: EPA

This interim briefing note has been prepared by the EPA Catchments Unit for DHLGH. The aim of this interim briefing note is to provide an overview of the number of waterbodies that are impacted by activities relevant to DAFM, and to highlight the issues (e.g. P, N, sediment) that measures must target to improve water quality and meet Water Framework Directive (WFD) environmental objectives. Assuming all necessary measures are implemented, the note also provides a projection on the number of waterbodies where water quality can be improved and also the number of waterbodies where these measures will lead to waterbodies achieving their environmental objective.


As the note is an interim note, and the analysis is based on draft characterisation data and draft Pollution Impact Potential maps, some values may change, but overall the document provides a general overview of the extent of action that is required and what this action can achieve.

This note focuses on three distinct sections relevant to DAFM: Agriculture, Forestry and Land drainage/Channelisation

Cattle Herd Size, by County

Source: Central Statistics Office Source: AIM (Animal Identification and Movement) managed by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine 

April 21st 2022

Values marked with .. are confidential

These figures refer to the time period June 1st 2021

Download in Excel

Nitrates Directive Report (91/676/EEC): Ireland’s Reporting Obligation

EC Reporting on water pollution by nitrates and action programmes taken in vulnerable zones.

Member States shall, in respect of the four-year period following the notification of this Directive and in respect of each subsequent four-year period, submit a report to the Commission containing the information outlined in Annex V.

Note: While the reporting comes from the EPA, they have confirmed that the summary text on farm activities, measures and inspections etc included in the report come directly from the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine (DAFM).

The raw data on the farm activities, measures and inspections used by DAFM to create the summary in the report is held by DAFM

For the EPA’s annual assessment of water quality in relation to the nitrates derogation, DAFM provides the EPA with an image/map of the derogation farm locations. The most recent report, which includes the image/map of 2020 Derogation Herd Locations, is available on the EPA website. https://www.epa.ie/publications/monitoring–assessment/freshwater–marine/nitrogen-and-phosphorus-concentrations-in-irish-waters-2020.php

Reports are filed here:

EnvelopeNitrate Directive Article 10 Report 2016-2019 for Ireland Supplemental 4End24 Feb 2021
EnvelopeNitrate Directive Article 10 Report 2016-2019 for Ireland Supplemental 3End19 Feb 2021
EnvelopeNitrate Directive Article 10 Report 2012-2015 for Ireland Supplement 8End19 Feb 2021
EnvelopeNitrate Directive Article 10 Report 2016-2019 for Ireland Supplemental 2End22 Dec 2020
EnvelopeNitrate Directive Article 10 Report 2016-2019 for Ireland Supplemental 1End10 Nov 2020
EnvelopeNitrate Directive Article 10 Report 2016-2019 for IrelandEnd09 Nov 2020
EnvelopeNitrate Directive Article 10 Report 2012-2015 for Ireland Supplement 7End17 Oct 2017
EnvelopeNitrate Directive Article 10 Report 2012-2015 for Ireland Supplement 6End04 Oct 2017
EnvelopeNitrate Directive Article 10 Report 2012-2015 for Ireland supplement 5End28 Nov 2016
EnvelopeNitrate Directive Article 10 Report 2012-2015 for Ireland Supplement 4End22 Nov 2016
EnvelopeNitrate Directive Article 10 Report 2012-2015 for Ireland Supplement 3End13 Oct 2016
EnvelopeNitrates Directive Article 10 Report 2012-2015 for Ireland Supplement 2End14 Sep 2016
EnvelopeNitrate Directive Article 10 Report 2012-2015 for Ireland Supplement 1End18 Jul 2016
EnvelopeNitrate Directive Article 10 Report 2012-2015 for IrelandEnd29 Jun 2016
EnvelopeIreland Nitrates Directive Article 10 Report 2008-2011End16 Jul 2012
EnvelopeNitrates Report 2008 DeliveryEnd23 Oct 2008
EnvelopeNitrates ReportDraft22 Jul 2008

Tender: DAFM Area Monitoring System Service

March 2022

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine invites tenders for the provision of an Area Monitoring System.


Within the context of the Common Agricultural Policy, Article 70 of Regulation 2021/2116 requires the establishment of an Area Monitoring System (AMS) by 1st January 2023. Article 65 of 2021/2116 defines an area monitoring system as a procedure of regular and systematic observation, tracking and assessment of agricultural activities and practices on agricultural areas by Copernicus Sentinels satellite data or other data of at least equivalent value.

The AMS will use Copernicus Sentinel Satellite data or other data of at least equivalent value to assess the monitorable eligibility conditions of the relevant area-based schemes.

To allow the reliable observation, tracking and assessment of agricultural activities and practices, the area monitoring system shall, ensure the detection of:
• The presence of ineligible areas, in particular permanent structures;
• The presence of ineligible land use;
• The change in the category of the agricultural area whether it is arable land, permanent crop or permanent grassland.


These observations will be made at the level of agricultural parcel or units of land containing non-agricultural areas and agricultural land considered eligible by the Member State. Where relevant, Member States shall use the information referred to in this paragraph for the purpose of updating the identification system for agricultural parcels.

The scope of the AMS system is to exploit the time series of Sentinel data to continuously monitor all the Feature of Interest (FOI) associated with agricultural parcels within the LPIS and the GSAA that relate to CAP area-based schemes. The system will be required to generate information to confirm or reject area-based eligibility compliance with the declared practices. This information will be communicated to scheme applicants in real time, so that they can be amended by the applicant, if required.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) is issuing this tender to enter into a contract with a vendor to supply an Area Monitoring System (AMS) Service for the Integrated Controls Division (ICD) within DAFM which has the capacity to deliver the obligations of Article 70 of Regulation 2021/2116 which requires the establishment of an AMS by 1st January 2023.

Article 65 of 2021/2116 defines an area monitoring system as a procedure of regular and systematic observation, tracking and assessment of agricultural activities and practices on agricultural areas by Copernicus Sentinels satellite data or other data of at least equivalent value.

The Integrated Administration and Control System

Within the context of the Common Agricultural Policy, REGULATION (EU) No 2021/2116 OFTHE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL requires the establishment and maintenance of an Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS) for certain payments provided for in Regulation (EU) No 2021/2115.

The integrated system shall comprise the following elements:

  • An identification system for agricultural parcels,
  • A geo-spatial application system and, where applicable,
  • An area monitoring system,
  • A system for the identification of beneficiaries of the interventions and measures referred to in Article 65(2); (e) a control and penalty system,
  • Where applicable, a system for the identification and registration of payment entitlements, &
  • Where applicable, a system for the identification and registration of animals.

The integrated system shall provide information relevant for the reporting on the indicators referred to in Article 7 of Regulation (EU) 2021/2115.

Land Parcel Identification System

Within the context of the Common Agricultural Policy, Article 68 of Regulation 2021/2116 requires the establishment and maintenance of an identification system for agricultural parcels. According to Article 5 of Regulation 2021/2116, an identification system shall operate at reference parcel level.  A reference parcel shall contain a unit of land representing agricultural area meaning any area taken up by arable land, permanent grassland, or permanent crops. Reference parcels must meet the following requirements:

  • Reference parcels shall be measurable,
  • Reference Parcels shall enable unique and unambiguous localisation of each agricultural parcel annually declared,
  • Reference parcels shall enable the calculation of a maximum eligible area for the purpose of the support schemes, &
  • Locate and determine the size of those ecological focus areas.

The Irish Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS) was originally established in 1995 based on 1:2,500 ordnance survey maps with LPIS parcels being aligned to the Irish National Grid. The LPIS contains approximately 1,300,000 parcels which have been subject to continuous update based on revised maps, review against new orthoimagery, and the results of satellite and ground inspections. In 2018 the DAFM commenced a rebuild of the LPIS which involved making a number of improvements including the realignment of LPIS boundaries to Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSI) Prime 2 to improve positional accuracy, adopting Irish Transverse Mercator as projection standard, and a new parcel numbering system. As of 2023, 19 counties have been delivered to the updated LPIS database with the remaining 7 being maintained on the legacy database. The LPIS rebuild project is scheduled to be completed in 2024 by which time all LPIS parcels will be delivered to the new LPIS database.

In the Irish context the reference parcel commonly referred to as the LPIS Parcel is defined as a continuous area of land, which can comprise of a single field or block of contiguous fields. LPIS parcels are generally declared by a single farmer with the exception of commonage parcels where land is held in common ownership and a single LPIS Parcel can be claimed by multiple farmers. LPIS Parcels are generally claimed with a single crop, i.e., a single agricultural parcel with the exception of temporary subdivision parcels where a farmer may declare multiple crops or agricultural parcels on a single LPIS parcel. LPIS parcel boundaries are generally mapped to real world topographical features, however some LPIS boundaries are based on administrative boundaries or unverified boundaries based on farmer maps. LPIS parcel boundaries do not include permanent non-agricultural features such as public roads, rivers etc.

The LPIS is currently used to administer payments for the following schemes:

  • Basic Payment Scheme* (BPS)
  • Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme (ANC)
  • Green Low Carbon Agri Environment Scheme (GLAS)
  • Protein Aid Scheme (PAS)
  • Beef Data Genomics Programme (BDGP)
  • Young Farmer Scheme (YFS)
  • Forestry Schemes

The LPIS Update Processes

LPIS is subject to continuous update based on revised maps, review against new orthoimagery, and the results of satellite and ground inspections. These updates occur year-round. The following sections give an overview of the different projects which trigger an update of the LPIS.

The below table summarises the number of LPIS parcel updates in a calendar year, in this case data is taken from 2020.

Applicants under the scheme were allocated payment entitlements and are paid on the basis of the number of entitlements held with the requirement to have an eligible hectare of agricultural land per entitlement. Annual applications are made by 15th May and also cover the other land-based aid schemes; for example, ANC, GLAS, Forestry, Protein Aid Scheme and the BDGP. Applicants declare all land parcels available to them and the eligible areas per parcel on their annual application forms. It is of critical importance under the IACS that the LPIS is accurate and fully up to date as regards eligible areas.

If a failure to properly maintain and update the LPIS is determined by a European Commission audit it could lead to a significant financial disallowance.

One of the main means by which the LPIS is kept up to date is by the annual submission of maps by applicants under the Basic Payment Scheme.  These maps are updated as appropriate to amend the eligible areas of the land parcels declared. 

In accordance with EU Parliament and Council Regulation No. 1306/2013 – Articles 59 and 74 and Commission Regulation (EU) No. 809/2014 – Articles 24-27, 30-33a, 37-41, it is necessary for Member States to carry out on-the-spot eligibility inspections on at least 5% of all beneficiaries submitting a Basic Payment Scheme application and/or other area-based scheme applications. Instead of applying the traditional means of on-the-spot checking, i.e., ground inspection, the Member States can make use of remote sensing as outlined in the articles of these Regulations. In Ireland a programme of both Ground Eligibility and Remote Sensing inspections are carried out.

In 2022, it is currently foreseen that approximately 7,000 applications will be controlled by Remote Sensing for land eligibility controls. It is anticipated that the applications will be located in approx. 48 remote sensing zones, reduced to approx. 20 zones where adjacent zones are merged, and will cover some 12,480 km2. In addition, approximately 1000 full ground eligibility inspections will be carried out in 2022 to verify area-based eligibility conditions for the scheme mentioned above.

The practical implementation of the On-the Spot Checks under these regulations is covered by the European Commission Guidance for On-The-Spot Checks (OTSC) and Area Measurement – DSCG/2014/32 – Final REV 4 – Year 2018 – Valid for campaign 2020, which can be downloaded from:

https://marswiki.jrc.ec.europa.eu/wikicap/index.php/Main_Page

In total over 15,000 applicants submitted maps using the on-line system in 2020.

The current GSAA application facility is also the application facility for other area-based schemes, including:        

  • Greening Payment
  • Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme – approx. 80% of applicants qualify
  • Areas of Specific Constraints (Islands) Scheme (ASC)
  • Young Farmers Scheme (YFS)
  • Protein Aid Scheme (PAS)
  • Straw Incorporation Measure (SIM)
  • Green Low Carbon Agri Environment Scheme (GLAS)
  • Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP)

Proposals for an improved Nitrate related farm inspection regime

Source: An Overview of Ireland’s Fifth Nitrates Action Programme

On average, approximately 3,400 Nitrates related inspections are undertaken on farms across Ireland each year by local authority and Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) personnel.

The level of compliance with the requirements of the GAP regulations varies from county to county but it is generally considered to be low, relative to compliance with other national legislation.

Submissions received during three consultation stages on Nitrates Action Programme, and discussions with local authority personnel suggests that reform of the overall enforcement of the GAP regulations is required to:
– Further improve compliance levels,
– Ensure local authorities are adequately resourced,
– Prioritise targeting of high-risk areas.

Not expected that there will be significant changes to the enforcement powers of authorised personnel within the GAP regulations

National local authority agricultural inspection programme will be put in place by local authorities and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that includes:
a) undertaking a review of the local authority inspection programme to be completed every four years.
b) developing, in consultation with other appropriate bodies, a National Agricultural Inspection Programme to include recommending, and potentially, directing local authorities on where to prioritise inspections using a risk-based approach taking water quality data and other environmental risk factors into consideration.
c) local authorities keeping appropriate records and submitting these to the EPA annually.
d) The EPA, local authorities and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine identifying the necessary training needs for all personnel carrying out farm Inspections.

In 2022, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage will issue a Circular to the EPA and local authorities providing more detail on the National Agricultural Inspection Programme.

A key focus of the Programme will be ensuring that follow up-inspections of non-compliant farms are undertaken, enforcement notices are issued and cases are prosecuted where necessary.

Steps will also be taken to ensure that all non-compliant farms are cross-reported to DAFM which will result in penalties.

Separately, an assessment of resources within the water environment functional area of local authorities, and specifically the agricultural inspection programme is ongoing by the County and City Management Association and will be included as a measure under the 3rd Cycle River Basin Management Plan.

These activities will build on work being undertaken by the EPA, local authorities and other members of the Network for Ireland’s Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (NIECE).

In addition DAFM has committed to increasing their nitrates derogation inspection programme from 5% of all derogation farms to 10% of all derogation farms on an annual basis. This is to be done using a risk based approach and additional risk category/categories will be added to ensure targeting in the most at risk areas.

https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/f1d01-fifth-nitrates-action-programme-2022-2025/

Coillte Shareholder Letter of Expectation

AIE/22/044

The basis for the Minister’s direction to Coillte in relation to policy matters is through the Shareholder Letter of Expectation issued jointly by Minister for DAFM and MPER.  

The last Shareholder Letter of Expectation is dated 9 May 2017, copy attached.


Work is currently ongoing for the next Shareholder Letter of Expectation, but no date for issue has yet been set.

GLAS & Hedgerows

Under the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, the Green Low-carbon Environmental Scheme (GLAS) included planting new hedgerows as an option.

The GLAS scheme operated in three tranches, planting a new hedgerow was an option available in GLAS1.

Hedgerows option was very popular under GLAS1.

Hedgerow planting option was suspended under GLAS 2 & 3.

There are just under 49,119 active farmers participating in the GLAS scheme, almost 15% of these planted a new hedgerow as part of their GLAS plan.

The minimum length of a new hedgerow that can be planted under the GLAS specifications is 10m.

GLAS participants were paid €5/metre of new hedgerow planted for each year of the 5 years of the scheme, provided the hedgerow met the specifications set out in the terms and conditions of the scheme.

Note: new hedgerows have to be a few years old before they can be detected by imagery.

https://www.gov.ie/en/service/9133a5-green-low-carbon-agri-environment-scheme-glas/?referrer=http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/farmerschemespayments/glas/

Where the Planting New Hedgerow action is taken on a farm boundary, the GLAS participant must ensure it is planted in such a manner that he/she has control of both sides of the new hedgerow and that he/she can maintain both sides of the new hedgerow. Note, where a fence has been erected under TAMS, the Planting of New Hedgerow Action cannot be planted inside of this fence.

Trees cannot be planted on Natura land.

Requirements from GLAS Specification

  • Plant 6 plants per metre in a double row of whitethorn and/or blackthorn and/or holly by 31st March 2017.
  • The minimum linear length that must be planted is 10 metres and this must be in a single continuous length.
  • The maximum length for which GLAS funding is available is 200 metres per holding.
  • The location and length (metres) must be identified on the LPIS parcel(s) and marked on the map submitted. The new hedge must be a standalone hedge and not placed against an existing hedgerow or stone wall.
  • Plants must be purchased from registered producers or registered grower s – see below.
  • All newly planted hedges whether planted in a grass or tillage field must be fenced off and protected from livestock, from the time the hedge is planted. However, where the newly planted hedgerow bounds a private laneway, public road or watercourse, fencing is not required on the laneway/road or water body side as long as the hedge is not being damaged by livestock. The fence must be stockproof and fit for purpose.
  • Grass and other competing vegetation must be controlled.
  • Plants must be trimmed over the course of the contract to ensure a dense hedgerow develops.
  • Failed or dead plants must be replaced at the earliest possible planting opportunity.

AIE: SEA Article 10 Monitoring

AIE/22/026

DAFM response

No formal report regarding the SEA

Reports submitted annually to EU in respect of the Nitrates Derogation, which also contains information on general compliance with the Nitrates regulations, information from the Agricultural Catchments programme (administered by Teagasc) and EPA reports