NFFN welcomes scheme re-opening

From Monday 16th August, Tranche 5 of the Wider Level of the Environmental Farming Scheme (EFS) will open for applications on 16 August 2021.

The Nature Friendly Farming Network (NFFN) welcomes the reopening of the scheme and the opportunity it presents for farmers to be rewarded for implementing nature-friendly farming practices on their farm.

NFFN commends the measures that existing scheme members have already put in place to improve water quality by creating riparian buffers, new hedgerows and woodland planting. On arable land, giant bird tables and field margins have created excellent habitats for wildflower, pollinators and birds.

NFFN NI Chair and livestock farmer in, Co Antrim, Michael Meharg, says: “EFS is an excellent opportunity for farmers to work with nature and we strongly encourage farmers who are not currently in an EFS scheme agreement to take full advantage of the many benefits farming with nature can provide.

“Our stock is an important tool in our conservation management with a herd of traditional Irish Moiled cattle which is a Rare Breeds Survival Trust focus species. The herd receives an EFS headage payment and is used to graze 90ha of flood plain for resilience and water retention following heavy rains. We have fenced off over 800m along the Crumlin River and this helps keep nutrients out of the river, improving water quality. These strips help to stabilise the river banks and provide wild corridors where nature can thrive. Otters hunt along the river while the riparian buffers attract butterflies and bees. I have seen first-hand how the EFS Wider scheme can deliver impressive environmental gains.”