EU crop payment schemes

A structural change to the EU crop payment schemes has been in force since 2015. This involves replacing the previous farm premium with the basic premium and the greening premium. An overview of the plant cultivation requirements that qualify you for subsidies.

Other changes following the EU agricultural reform

On farms, the first 46 hectares of agricultural land attract an additional subsidy; there is a young farmers' premium for farmers aged up to 40 and a grant for small producers. All premiums must be applied for by 15th May in the application year along with the crop application and the basic premium.

Structure of the EU crop payment schemes

The structure of the EU crop payment schemes

How to receive the greening premium

The greening premium is tied to three conditions that must always be met for all agricultural land. It does not matter whether or not payment entitlements exist. The only exemptions from these conditions are ecological farms and land on which asparagus or fruit is produced.

Three conditions of EU direct payments

Three conditions of EU direct payments

Cultivation diversification in greening

The specifications in the context of cultivation diversification in greening are differentiated according to the agricultural space of the farms and are as follows:

  • 10–30 hectares of agricultural land total = min. two crops, main crop must not cover more than 75% of the agricultural land
  • > 30 hectares of agricultural land total = min. three crops, main crop must not cover more than 75% and two crops must not cover more than 95%

In the context of cultivation diversification, a distinction is made between the crops according to the following criteria:

  • According to type: wheat, barley, rye, maize, rapeseed etc. each count as one crop, with spelt being deemed a separate crop since 2018
  • According to winter crop and summer crop: winter wheat, summer wheat, winter barley, summer barley each count as one crop
  • Arable feed crops (excluding maize) count as one crop, irrespective of type (e.g. agricultural grasses and mixture)
  • Irrespective of its usage (silo, grain, CCM usage), maize is always deemed to be one and the same crop in greening
  • Only the main crop counts in the case of catch crop cultivation (e.g. maize after rye GPS)

Farms that fulfil one of the following criteria are exempt from the cultivation diversification requirements:

  • < 10 hectares agricultural land
  • > 75 percent of the arable land is used for growing grass and other green feed crops incl. small-grain legumes and fallow (maize fields not included)
  • > 75 percent of the arable land consisting of permanent grassland and arable land that is used for growing grass or other green feed plants (incl. small-grain legumes and fallow, maize not included)

A farm has 100 hectares of arable land incl. landscape elements, of which 60 hectares are permanent grassland, 20 hectares are agricultural grass, 20 hectares are maize. In this case no cultivation diversification is necessary because 80 per cent of the land = permanent grassland + arable feed crop production (excluding maize).

Maintenance of permanent grassland

In order to maintain permanent grassland, all measures that destroy the sward through turning or deep tillage require approval and/or are notifiable. When it comes to maintaining permanent grassland, a distinction is always made between two categories of permanent grassland. They are subject to the following conditions:

  • No ploughing possible, and no ploughing up for maintenance with new seeding; exceptions only in the context of agri-environmental schemes

  • Permanent grassland may only be ploughed with approval, even if re-establishment or sward renewal is involved·
  • Exceptions for mandating new seeding or the provision of a replacement area are possible only within the context of agri-environmental schemes and in special cases

Ecological focus areas (EFAs)

In the context of EU crop payment schemes for greening, all farms apart from the exceptions listed below have an obligation to maintain what are known as ecological focus areas. These must make up at least 5 per cent of the farm's gross agricultural land. This means that catch crop cultivation and cultivation diversification are becoming increasingly important. Various measures can be credited and combined as EFAs. A so-called weighting factor is assigned to each measure as an expression of the measure's significance. A combination of the various measures is possible. It must be noted that each field can only be used for one measure per application year.

Since 2018, chemical crop protection on ecological focus areas has not been permitted, which excludes the use of herbicides when cultivating grain legumes as ecological focus areas.

Measures for creating an ecological focus area with weighting factors

Measure Weighting factor
Leaving fallow 1111
Fallow land with bee meadow, fallow FlB 1.51, 1.5
Buffer strips, edge of field strips, edge of forest strips 1.5
Leguminous plant cultivation 1.0
Catch crop, grass nurse crops 0.3
Landscape elements 1–2
Miscanthus 0.7
Cup plant 0.7

Farms that fulfil one of the following criteria are exempt from the requirements relating to EFAs:

< 15 hectares arable land
> 75 per cent of the arable land = permanent grassland + arable feed crop (excluding maize)
> 75 per cent of the arable land = arable feed crop (excluding maize) + fallow + legumes

You will find a good overview of the possible measures in the "Overview of ecological focus areas" (download as a PDF file).

Topsoil for catch crop cultivation as ecological focus areas

All AGRAVIS topsoil mixes with the suffix "EU" contain only types that are identified for catch crop mixes for recognition as ecological focus areas within the framework of agricultural support.

Agri-environmental schemes (AES)

Irrespective of the greening premium in agriculture, which is financed from funds in the 1st column, in some federal states farms could in previous years apply for certain agri-environmental schemes (AES). These can be seen in the 2nd agricultural support column. The type and scope of the programmes differ greatly from each other here in some cases. If approval has been granted, the measures must be implemented with the appropriate seed mixes and in line with the applicable management rules. In many federal states, it is possible to offset the relevant AES with the greening support. In this case, however, the funding rates and direct payments are adjusted. The duration of most AES is five years.

In order to participate in the agri-environmental schemes, precise requirements must be met with regard to sowing time, period of use, crop protection and fertilising, as well as the make-up of the respective seed mix. You can find more information on the website of the Chamber of Agriculture for North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony.

For this purpose, AGRAVIS supplies various seed mixes that are eligible for grants: