BPS 2021 - Temporary Grassland to Permanent Grassland and back again

bitwrx

Member
Hi All,

Just doing my first BPS application (first for me, not the land parcels in question), and just want to check my understanding of the temporary grassland and permanent grassland rules.

As I understand it:
  • Temporary grassland can only exist for 5 consecutive years before it automatically becomes permanent grassland. This is irrespective of whether it has been cultivated, reseeded, fertilised or otherwise farmed during those 5 years.
  • If one wants to plough up some permanent grassland, then as long as it has been cultivated at some time in the previous 15 years, there is no environmental impact assessment required. It's only if 15 years have elapsed since it was last 'cultivated', or if it is "uncultivated or semi-natural grassland" that one needs an EIA and screening decision.
  • The onus is on the farmer to prove the timescales for any 'improvement' activities carried out, through field records, photos, farm diary or whatever.
Have I got that straight?

If so, the only risk here is that NE designate parts of my regularly ploughed and reseeded grass as 'semi-natural grassland'. However, I can't find any definitive information on how such a designation would be made. Anyone have any pointers on that?

Thanks in advance,
Charlie
 

holwellcourtfarm

Member
Livestock Farmer
Hi All,

Just doing my first BPS application (first for me, not the land parcels in question), and just want to check my understanding of the temporary grassland and permanent grassland rules.

As I understand it:
  • Temporary grassland can only exist for 5 consecutive years before it automatically becomes permanent grassland. This is irrespective of whether it has been cultivated, reseeded, fertilised or otherwise farmed during those 5 years.
  • If one wants to plough up some permanent grassland, then as long as it has been cultivated at some time in the previous 15 years, there is no environmental impact assessment required. It's only if 15 years have elapsed since it was last 'cultivated', or if it is "uncultivated or semi-natural grassland" that one needs an EIA and screening decision.
  • The onus is on the farmer to prove the timescales for any 'improvement' activities carried out, through field records, photos, farm diary or whatever.
Have I got that straight?

If so, the only risk here is that NE designate parts of my regularly ploughed and reseeded grass as 'semi-natural grassland'. However, I can't find any definitive information on how such a designation would be made. Anyone have any pointers on that?

Thanks in advance,
Charlie
Your understanding is the same as mine Charlie and we've been in grassland for decades.

Actually there's another rule: The government have the right to insist that land once classified as PG1 is returned to pasture if the UK loses too much permanent pasture. This was originally an EU rule but, of course, we're no longer in it. The rule was brought in because of the worry that some EU countries were losing too much of their PP to arable and recognises that genuine PP is (or can be) much better for wildlife than intensive arable. I suspect that's now less clear with arable margins and beetle banks and it clearly contradicts those campaigning for an end to meat in our diets to free land for more arable crops but, hey, that's no surprise.

Essentially, so long as it's been down <15 years and you can prove it by a record of a non-grass crop in that time then you can just change its use at little risk. If it's "improved grassland" with mostly ryegrass in then there's very little risk. 15 years of an undisturbed herbal ley might be harder.
 
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bitwrx

Member
Your understanding is the same as mine Charlie and we've been in grassland for decades.

Actually there's another rule: The government have the right to insist that land once classified as PG1 is returned to pasture if the UK loses too much permanent pasture. This was originally an EU rule but, of course, were no longer in it. The rule was brought in because of the worry that some EU countries were losing too much of their PP to arable and recognises that genuine PP is (or can be) much better for wildlife than intensive arable. I suspect that's now less clear with arable margins and beetle banks and it clearly contradicts those campaigning for an end to meat in our diets to free land for more arable crops but, hey, that's no surprise.

Essentially, so long as it's been down <15 years and you can prove it by a record of a non-grass crop in that time then you can just change its use at little risk. If it's "improved grassland" with mostly ryegrass in then there's very little risk. 15 years of an undisturbed herbal ley might be harder.
Thanks @holwellcourtfarm. As you know, we disturb it with pigs on a regular basis, but it gets ploughed and, in recent years, put back into grass immediately afterwards. Might be time to reintroduce a cereal crop into the rotation (just to be sure, like).
 

Brisel

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
North Yorkshire
Hi All,

Just doing my first BPS application (first for me, not the land parcels in question), and just want to check my understanding of the temporary grassland and permanent grassland rules.

As I understand it:
  • Temporary grassland can only exist for 5 consecutive years before it automatically becomes permanent grassland. This is irrespective of whether it has been cultivated, reseeded, fertilised or otherwise farmed during those 5 years.
  • If one wants to plough up some permanent grassland, then as long as it has been cultivated at some time in the previous 15 years, there is no environmental impact assessment required. It's only if 15 years have elapsed since it was last 'cultivated', or if it is "uncultivated or semi-natural grassland" that one needs an EIA and screening decision.
  • The onus is on the farmer to prove the timescales for any 'improvement' activities carried out, through field records, photos, farm diary or whatever.
Have I got that straight?

If so, the only risk here is that NE designate parts of my regularly ploughed and reseeded grass as 'semi-natural grassland'. However, I can't find any definitive information on how such a designation would be made. Anyone have any pointers on that?

Thanks in advance,
Charlie
That's my understanding of the rules too. I've never wanted to do anything with semi natural grassland other than graze it so I'm not up to speed on EIAs. You would advised to have records of the things that would prevent it becoming "interesting" grassland e.g. evidence of your pig units located there, any sprays or fertiliser or reseeds.
 

Pan mixer

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Near Colchester
I understood that if you have fertilised, mowed, baled or intensively grazed PP then it can pass an EIA to be ploughed up, certainly the RPA thought so when I told them about some of my fields a few years ago.

There was some stiry that a qualified agronomist had to verify the amount of ryegrass was over a certain percentage too, I can't recall details.

I have some PP that is never fertilised and hasn't much ryegrass and I wouldn't dream of ploughing that up or reseeding but the better land is better to have all those sheep and cattle worm eggs buried for a few years under cereals. Just like the blackgrass and wild oats don't thrive under a grazing regime.
 
Your understanding is the same as mine Charlie and we've been in grassland for decades.

Actually there's another rule: The government have the right to insist that land once classified as PG1 is returned to pasture if the UK loses too much permanent pasture. This was originally an EU rule but, of course, we're no longer in it. The rule was brought in because of the worry that some EU countries were losing too much of their PP to arable and recognises that genuine PP is (or can be) much better for wildlife than intensive arable. I suspect that's now less clear with arable margins and beetle banks and it clearly contradicts those campaigning for an end to meat in our diets to free land for more arable crops but, hey, that's no surprise.

Essentially, so long as it's been down <15 years and you can prove it by a record of a non-grass crop in that time then you can just change its use at little risk. If it's "improved grassland" with mostly ryegrass in then there's very little risk. 15 years of an undisturbed herbal ley might be harder.
I dont altogether agree with your point of a non-grass crop. My understanding is that grass to grass reseed changes the designation from PG01 to TG01 and the land use to arable?
 

holwellcourtfarm

Member
Livestock Farmer
I dont altogether agree with your point of a non-grass crop. My understanding is that grass to grass reseed changes the designation from PG01 to TG01 and the land use to arable?
No. It has to be a non-grass crop in between. Unless someone successfully challenged that in court (that's how the misapplication of the rule on harvesting grass from set-aside was resolved in the 90's).
 

holwellcourtfarm

Member
Livestock Farmer
Then I will keep my head down as at least one application has slipped under the radar as above. Isnt TG01 an arable code?
Yes. They will assume you can prove there was an effective break. If it got inspected and you couldn't you'd be losing subs. The break could have been a winter in forage rape or stubble turnips then back into grass in spring so showing on paper as grass in both years despite the break.

Just reseeding doesn't count. That always annoys me. It's all because of the ridiculous official EU definition of PP as being any land in grass for 5 consecutive years. We all know what true PP is and it's certainly not defined by being down 5 years. They should have called it something else, persistent grass or long- term grass for example.
 

Chalky

Member
We grow 3 year grass silage leys-ours for AD but others use as feed obviously. To stop any possibility of permanancy we classed them as AC100 ryegrass. This is an arable code and has been prepopulated as such in the subsequent year I first called all the leys that rather than TG. It may not be what the code is for(is it ryegrass for seed??) but I would challenge any inspector to tell me it is not a ryegrass ley. BTW the code does not stipulate purity or variety-just 'ryegrass'.
 

DrWazzock

Member
Location
Lincolnshire
We have had them declare certain fields to be PP when they are definitely not. We just put the correct code in and carry on. We have some large fields temporarily divided at times, some in grass etc. How anybody can ever keep track of overlaps etc I don’t know. Nobody has ever bothered us about it. It’s small fry in the grand scheme of things.
 

Rejuvenating swards: Which option is best?

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Written by Brian McDonnell

Maintaining grass quality during mid-season grazing is important. Farmers can maintain quality by entering ideal grazing covers of 1,300 – 1,500kg DM/ha, and grazing down to a residual of 4cm every rotation.

If you are now in a situation where cows are not cleaning out paddocks as well as they should be, leading to the development of steamy grass within the sward, here are some options.

Common options for rejuvenating swards include:

  1. Take a silage cut, probably into bales, remove the material and start again with the aftermath...
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