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Environment Newsletter - October 2023

09 October 2023
Type Newsletter

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In this edition:

  • ACRES dates for your diary
    October to December:
    • geese and swans grassland: must have an average sward height between 5 and 12cm by October 1 – remove mown material, and no grazing or machinery operations from October 1 to March 31;
    • management of intensive grassland next to a watercourse: no grazing from October 1 to March 15;
    • grass margins: no grazing or cutting in year 1;
    • riparian buffer strips/zones in grassland: can be cut between September and February with offtakes removed;
    • over winter stubble: no grazing or topping from harvest to February 1;
    • brassica fodder stubble: must be grazed after October 15 and must not cause poaching or soil erosion – after grazing, must leave undisturbed until March;
    • catch crops: must remain in situ from date of sowing to January 1;
    • rare breeds: ensure you meet the minimum average of 0.1 livestock unit (LU) for 2023 by December 31; and,
    • hedges: in Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES) area-based actions, hedges less than 1.8m should not be cut. Now is the time to plan the establishment of your hedge under ACRES. Although hedge plants aren’t available until the first frost and planting is normally after January, now is the time to prepare.
  • Planting a topped hedge or treeline hedge?
    Approximately 5,000 farmers will plant 2,000km of new hedges under ACRES this winter. The first decision is whether you want a topped hedge or a treeline hedge. Both are good for biodiversity and both should be present on farms, but management at establishment differs. Topped hedges are maintained to form a traditional hedge with a dense base, while treeline hedges/escaped hedges are untopped hedges, forming a treeline or linear woodland.
  • Hedge cutting - leave a new thorn sapling
    Our network of native hedges in the Irish countryside (an estimated 689,000km) uses a very broad definition of hedge, including tall treeline hedges, stockproof hedges, gappy hedges and earth banks with occasional shrubs. When asked what is the best hedge – the answer is the hedge already on your farm. These are valuable, most likely to have remained undisturbed for 200 years, and contain shrubs and associated lichen, mosses and fungi, ground flora and soil full of biodiversity and stores of carbon.