HERE are some guidelines to help you manage provision of minimum soil cover. Under the Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC) 4, you must take all reasonable steps to provide minimum soil cover as follows:-
- Vegetative cover from crops, grass and herbaceous forage
- Cover crops, leguminous and nitrogen fixing crops
- Game cover
- Overwintered stubbles and crop residues (maize and sugar beet)
- Species targeting crops
- Trees, coppice and fruit crops
Some exemptions to this rule include if there is an agronomic justification. These are as follows:-
- if it would conflict with GAEC 5, to minimise soil erosion (see below)
- land managed for pest/ disease/ weed control
- land subject to drain installation or maintenance
- land subject to agri-environment schemes or greening
- conditions created for wildlife/ biodiversity
- where the land is being prepared as a seedbed and is sown within 14 days of preparation or where weather conditions have delayed this but will be sown as soon as reasonably possible
GAEC 5, mimising soil erosion, is highly dependent upon your livestock management, cropping practice and vehicular movements and should be considered along with erosion preventative measures during general practice. Another key soil management condition is GAEC 6, maintaining the level of organic matter in the soil. This can be done by not burning crop stubble unless for plant health, compliance with Heather and Grass Burning Regulations (2007) and the Environmental Impact Assessment (Agriculture) (England) (No 2) Regulations (2006) and by not ploughing, cultivating or intensifying species rich and semi-natural habitats. These conditions are key to be aware of for general good husbandry but also a failure to comply could result in significant payment reductions.
If you’d like to know more or you want to discuss this with a member of our Agricultural Team, please call 01423 860322.