By Andrew Thomson,
Sustainable Land Management Branch, CAFRE
A new option within the popular Business Development Group (BDG) scheme has opened up.
As with other groups, the new environmental farming BDGs will meet six times a year on farm to discuss wide ranging topics of interest and demonstrate management practices that can enhance or protect the environment
Environmental BDGs will be facilitated by a local agri-environment adviser and are open to all farm businesses which meet the eligibility criteria for BDGs. Members of existing BDGs are welcome to join as well as first time applicants to the scheme.
The scheme supports BDG members who host a group visit with a £600 payment and support is available for analytical services and environmental benchmarking.
Dale Orr, pictured, operates a suckler beef enterprise and an expanding Lleyn flock close to the shore of Strangford Lough in County Down. By successfully establishing clover swards the need for artificial fertiliser nitrogen has been eliminated and with nutrient planning and regular soil sampling to help manage soil fertility the risk of nutrient run-off to the lough has been reduced.
Growing confidence in the ability to manage red and white clover swards for silage and grazing respectively has led Dale to sow out 12 hectares to herbal leys hoping to capitalise on its deeper rooting and anthelmintic properties.
“The environment is going to play a larger role in our future and we are going to have to adapt. I am keen to see if herbal leys can reduce worm burden, maintain production and improve soil health on my farm.”
The Business Development Groups Scheme is part of the NI Rural Development Programme, is part funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and is currently open for applications.
n STOP PRESS: DAERA Minister Edwin Poots has extended the closing date for applications to the Business Development Groups (BDGs) Scheme by one week, until 4pm on Friday, January 31, to facilitate additional applications.
Mr Poots said: “I would encourage all farmers who are not already in a group to apply before the new closing date.”
For further information visit www.cafre.ac.uk/business-development-groups or call 028 9442 6790 or email email@example.com
Assistance with completing online applications is available at all DAERA Direct offices during opening hours and additional support is available between 5pm and 8pm at Loughry Campus on Wednesday, January 29.